"Mama Mia paid better, but I feel better about myself after this one." (Sony Pictures Classics)
Mama Mia may have paid better,
but I don’t hate myself after this one…”
(Sony Pictures Classics)

The aptly titled Love Is All You Need takes an honest, realistic look at romance with a little help from the Italian seaside.  Using these beautiful vistas to her advantage, director Susanne Bier unites British widower Philip (Pierce Brosnan, in full silver fox mode) and Danish breast cancer survivor Ida (Trine Dyrholm) at their respective children’s wedding.

Still angry at the world years after his wife’s death, Philip has so thoroughly devoted himself to his career that he can barely communicate outside of that world on a casual, polite level.  Even smiles are practically foreign to his tightened face, a workaholic aura that Brosnan exudes especially well.  The film’s pleasure therefore comes as Ida slowly brings him out of his icy stupor, and as she unintentionally teaches him to love again in the place where he first experienced that emotion, intelligent sparks fly.

Love Is All You Need (Sony Pictures Classics)
Two if by sea.
(Pay no attention to the man in blue.)
(Sony Pictures Classics)

Though their past and present struggles are depicted somewhat broadly, combined with the exceptional chemistry between Brosnan and Dyrholm, the two leads inspire a great deal of sympathy.  Further rooting interest comes from the ineptitude of those around them.  Ida’s unfaithful husband Leif (Kim Bodina) dodges responsibility for his actions, quick to find fault with his attackers and spin the repercussions as a pity party, while Philip’s oppressively loud sister-in-law Benedikte (Paprika Steen) mistakes Philip’s charity for veiled sexual longings.

As these characters clash throughout the weekend, long-harbored feelings come to the surface and other major revelations occur, but unlike the somewhat similar-on-paper The Big Wedding, few instances here feel forced for the sake of drama.  Love Is All You Need is too smart and good natured for such dopey results, expertly focused on being a pleasant reminder of the simple power of love, something that not enough films do nowadays.

Grade: B+

Rated R for brief sexuality, nudity and some language.

Love Is All You Need is currently playing at the Carolina Cinemas on Hendersonville Rd.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnqdafBzQQI]

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