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Love Is All You Need

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Luckily, the film is smarter than the average adult-oriented romantic dramedy, and not just because it speaks in three tongues. The main reason for its ultimate (if unspectacular) success is its director and co-writer, Susanne Bier, who won an Academy Award for the Danish drama In a Better World, deservedly named 2010’s Best Foreign Language Film.

Love represents Bier’s follow-up and, at least by comparison, her lightening up. Whereas World was all business, Love works in plenty of pleasure. Not to overpraise the piece, but catch it while you can; it begins an exclusive run Friday at AMC Quail Springs Mall 24, 2501 W. Memorial.

Denmark’s Trine Dyrholm is front-and-center as Ida, a comfortably (versus happily) married hairdresser who has reason to celebrate life: She’s nearing the end of chemo treatments for breast cancer and her daughter, Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind), is about to marry Patrick (Sebastian Jessen), in a well-to-do ceremony in Italy.

Too bad Ida comes home to find her husband of 23 years humping some pretty young thing on their couch.

En route to the big nuptials without her spouse, Ida literally crashes into Philip (Pierce Brosnan, our former James Bond 007) in a parking garage. Not only is Philip a still-grieving widower ripe for the plucking, but also the father of Patrick. What are the odds?

Such contrivances are what many a minor movie have been built upon ... and why do so many of them —  Under the Tuscan Sun, Letters to Juliet — take place in Italy? But then, Bier pulls back the reins in order to juggle multiple storylines, many yet to take seed, all while keeping a keen eye on developing the relationship between Ida and Philip.

You already know how that part will end, but it is a joy to watch Dyrholm and Brosnan go through those motions. Dyrholm demonstrates a bravery few American actresses would dare bare, while a gracefully graying Brosnan infuses his personal experience into the role.

When Ida asks Philip about his wife’s death, and he answers slowly, “She was just ... unfortunate,” one assumes Brosnan must have been thinking of his own real-life tragedy: losing his first wife to cancer in 1991, when she was just 43. He delivers the line with palpable weight, yet little effort.

Bier makes the whole of Love seem as easy. She excels at these multicharacter pieces, even if some of its edges strike one as too on-the-nose. —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
In a Better World film review    

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