In Love Is All You Need (Den skaldede frisør, 2012), a Mediterranean locale plays hosts to the upcoming nuptials of a good-looking, twentysomething couple, whilst Pierce Brosnan crops up as the father of one of the young lovers. Rest assured – this isn’t some kind of cynical, cash-grabbing Mamma Mia! (2008) continuation, but instead the work of celebrated Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier. And what an irresistibly intoxicating yarn she has crafted, managing to coax a career-best turn from the aforementioned ex-Bond, plus a spirited and extremely appealing central performance from previous collaborator, Trine Dyrholm.
Dyrholm plays Ida, a cuckolded wife in remission from breast cancer. She’s coming to terms with the psychological and physical effects of the disease when she discovers her bullish husband (Kim Bodnia) is sleeping with the receptionist at work, who is closer in age to their daughter. Said offspring is currently planning her wedding to a young man at a rustic Italian villa, which was once the home to his spiky and aloof British father Philip (Brosnan) – a widowed businessman and grocer who is still nursing that broken heart from decades back. A twist of fate brings both Ida and Philip together on the trip out to the wedding, and the two lonesome parents find themselves growing closer as the celebrations begin.
Love is All You Need’s gorgeous setting offers a warm and woozy escapism, but this isn’t a bland, throwaway picture-postcard story of love and connection. At its heart, Bier’s romance is an honest look at human frailty, and Dyrholm brings such dignity and warmth to the part, it’s incredibly easy to conceive of anyone falling in love with her. She is the perfect foil to Brosnan, whose initial distant and taciturn façade slowing ebbs away in a believable manner as he, too, find himself enchanted by his future family member-in-law.
The deep, eminently warm colour palette whipped up by Bier and her cinematographer lends the film an almost fairy tale-like quality, but the director also retains an assured grasp of the very real and convincingly emotional scenarios which play out over the weekend. Love is All You Need is a heady, irresistible delight which has infinitely more life and personality than any of the anodyne American romantic counterparts out there. Don’t miss it on DVD/Blu-ray.