Just last month, I was commenting in my review for The Big Wedding on how the whole “two families with problems that get together for some important event” storyline has been done to death. Well, it didn’t take long to be faced with the same plot foundation yet again as Susanne Bier’s Love is All You Need uses a very similar method. That’s not saying it’s nearly as big a disaster as The Big Wedding was (that was a very special case of pretty much nothing working for the film), but it does still open the story up to the endless clichés that befall such a tale.
Love is All You Need is a simple story of two families coming together for the wedding of Patrick (Sebastian Jessen) and Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind) in Italy. Astrid’s mother, Ida (Trine Dyrholm), is going through a bit of a rough patch in her life. She’s fighting cancer, and not long before the wedding, she’s walks in on her husband Leif (Kim Bodnia) making love to another woman. While trying to catch her flight, she (quite literally) runs into Patrick’s father, Philip (Pierce Brosnan). At first, he comes off as a rather angry person, but as the two get to know each other during their stay, it becomes rather obvious that there is something special between them.
This is basically another one of those films that doesn’t really have an original bone in its body (they even feel the need to use “It’s Amore” throughout), and yet, it manages to be a little better than you would expect. There are moments that are somewhat sweet, but you quickly realize that you’ve seen it all before and that there isn’t really any direction it could go that would be surprising, at least not in a good way. You get the same obvious situations/complications that you would expect from such a film: Will the young couple really get married? Will the older couple that has grown close end up together? In short, if you’re looking for something fresh, you’re not going to find it here.
The interesting thing is that Bier apparently wanted to make a film about a cancer survivor (something she keeps bringing up in the interviews), but that story gets sidelined very quickly and scarcely mentioned at all until the very end of the film where it ends up playing more as an afterthought instead of a fully-developed storyline. If it was such an important element for her to include in the film, why toss it aside as though it makes no difference? She also mentions that she wanted the story to be lighter and not one that’s heavy-handed. I guess her best solution to the problem was simply to forget about it.
What ends up keeping the film afloat are the charming performances from the leads, Pierce Brosnan and Trine Dyrholm in particular. Brosnan handles the transformation from anger to sweet-hearted very well, gradually coming around to realizing that there could be more to his life than the fruits and veggies business that he has poured himself into. Likewise, Dyrholm does a splendid job of portraying this woman going through multiple issues at once. While she does try to hold on to what she has, she too begins to realize that something different needs to happen.
The film concludes with a mixture of predictable and random elements. Some things you can see coming from a mile off whereas others just pop up out of nowhere, with writers Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen just hoping you accept it. Perhaps they realized that they were relying too heavily on old plot devices and decided to attempt a last-minute shakeup. This would have been fine if they had integrated it into the story better, but as it is, it’s just out of the blue. I suppose a little surprise, regardless of whether it works or not, is better than none at all.
Love is All You Need becomes another example of a film that’s so light and airy that you’ll end up forgetting it not long after it’s over. Again, it’s more enjoyable than one would think given the premise, but sadly it can’t overcome the multiple story problems laid down in the cliché-filled script. As I find myself saying over and over again, a little originality goes a long way. Without it, you’re stuck with a film as generic as this title.
Taking a quick look at the specs, the film is presented in a 2.35:1, 1080p High Definition transfer that really shows off the beautiful locations used for the story. This is a film filled with bright, vibrant colors, so it’s good to see it got suitable treatment. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is also of excellent quality. It may be a small film, but they treated it with top-notch care.
Special features on the disc include the following:
- Commentary with Pierce Brosnan & Director Susanne Bier
- Q&A with Pierce Brosnan, Trine Dyrholm, Susanne Bier & Anders Thomas Jensen
- Cast Interviews from the Venice Film Festival
- Behind the Scenes with Trine Dyrholm
Starting with the commentary, a sampling reveals that this is one of those tracks where the participants don’t really have much to say and instead say how great each actor was as they pop up on screen. The Q&A and Cast Interviews basically cover the same ground with similar questions being asked in both featurettes. They give you a little info, but remain rather superficial in what they cover. The “Behind the Scenes” featurette is very misleadingly titled as it merely features a photographer who talks a few minutes about following Dyrholm around Venice for the film’s screening. It offers no actual behind the scenes material and ends up being a pointless addition to the disc.
All in all, this is a pretty forgettable film with extras that aren’t really worth the time to sit through. Hopefully the practice of using this same story template will end pretty soon. Filmmakers need to realize that it’s been fully drained and unless they can discover a brand new angle for it, they need to leave it be. Try a radically different approach, and then switch up the same old issues that they go through. Originality is the key to making a film like this more memorable. Clichés won’t get you there. All they’ll do for such a film is guarantee a place in cinematic obscurity.
This review is based on a copy of the Blu-Ray that we received for reviewing purposes.
While Love is All You Need is better than most films of its type, it's still unable to overcome the numerous cliches that come attached to such a story.