Sztuczki (Tricks) (2007) Film. Director : Andrzej Jakimowski


Six-year-old Stefek challenges fate. He believes that the chain of events he sets in motion will help him get closer to his father who abandoned his mother. His sister Elka, 17, helps him learn how to “bribe” fate with small scarifices. Tricks and coincidences eventually bring the father to the mother’s doorstep, but things go wrong. In despair Stefek tries his good luck with the most risky of his tricks. (mubi)


This wistful, whimsical slice of provincial life is far removed from the glory days of the Polish cinema that challenged the authoritarian system from the 50s to the 80s, as it puts a mildly affirmative face on the current troubled scene. It covers a few hot summer days in a dull, rundown town where 10-year-old Stefek believes that a brown-suited, briefcase-carrying commuter who changes trains every day at the local station is his father who a decade earlier deserted his family, and he indulges in various strategies, both social and magical, to bring him home.

Stefek’s obsession makes life difficult for his mother (who runs a grocery shop) and his lovely 17-year-old sister, who’s washing dishes in a cafe while learning Italian to try for a job with an Italian company, the only promising source of employment in this moribund town.

This is a sad, muted, delicately observed film with strong naturalistic performances. Yet again, an eastern European asks the bitter question: did we go through all that for this?

Man-choo (Late Autumn) (2010) Film. Director: Tae-Yong Kim


Anna, sentenced to prison for murdering her brutal husband, is granted a brief leave of absence to attend her mother’s funeral in Seattle. On her way there she meets Hoon, a Korean immigrant who makes his living as a callboy. Both are outsiders – Anna as the outcast of her Chinese family, Hoon as a man being hunted down by a jealous husband. Two lonely souls who suddenly find what they had no longer dared to seek: a great love. But not only Anna’s return to prison looms ominously – Hoon’s past unexpectedly drives their joint future in a tragic direction.

Man chu, the movie version of a novel and a remake at the same time, portrays two fundamentally different characters united in their lack of direction. Director Kim Tae-Yong finds settings of painful beauty in the Seattle autumn. A fairground sequence of breathtaking emotional density is also visually one of the most outstanding moments of the cinematic year. In perfect harmony with the remarkable performances of the protagonists, the pointed dialogues at the Chinese funeral ceremony reveal with great precision the deep divides within a family. Man chu is great emotional cinema which goes beyond sentimentality and moves the audience to tears. –Berlinale

Ill Manors (2012) Film. Director : Ben Drew

Ill Manors (2012) DVDRip 450MB hnmovies


‘Are you sitting comfortably?’ That’s rapper Plan B talking at the start of his first film (written and directed under his real name Ben Drew; the soundtrack album is out next month ). It’s a trick question. He doesn’t want you to be comfortable with this angry, battering ram of a film – set around Forest Gate in east London where he grew up. In his own life, Drew was born with a one-in-a-million talent – like some God-given lottery-win. That, with a bit luck and elbow-grease, got him out of Forest Gate. His film is about the people he left behind: you show me a chav, and I’ll show you a kid who’s been let down, kicked down, abused, excluded. ‘Ill Manors’ isn’t perfect, but it gets under the skin – despairing, brutally eloquent and frighteningly real.

You can almost sense the frenzy of ideas whirling about inside Drew’s head – and his script goes into storytelling overdrive. Everything in the film is true, he says – something he’s read in a newspaper or that’s happened to friend. And it’s relentless, without a chink of hope. A crack-addicted prostitute steals a phone from drug dealer Ed (Ed Skrein). To pay for a new one, he marches her from pub to chicken shop to kebab shop, pimping her out until she can hardly walk (late in the night, bored, he offers two men a 2-for-1 deal). His mate Aaron (Riz Ahmed, brilliant, as ever) is vaguely troubled watching this, but not enough to stop it.

Taking a leaf out of Ken Loach’s rulebook, Drew casts mostly non-pro actors. He’s even given his godfather a role as a fortysomething drug dealer not long out of prison who plies a 14-year-old with crack to get her into bed. There’s at least one plotline too many here (one involving a trafficked sex worker feels tacked on, as does Ed’s scheme to sell a baby). But Drew hammers home the dog-eat-dog psychology on the street. And all the while he shows his characters as children in flashback. Aaron and Ed grew up in care (Ed, perhaps coincidentally, looks strikingly like photos we saw on the news of Baby P, an angelically blond, blue-eyed toddler). When does a vulnerable child stop being a victim, Drew seems to ask? When he picks up his first joint? His first knife? When he looks old enough to steal your phone?

There are plenty of flaws here, but instinctively ‘Ill Manors’ feels important – like some British films of the 1980s (‘Meantime’, ‘Scum’) that spoke of a generation out of work and out of hope. Today’s problems feel more serious (or do we always think that in hard times?). Everyone’s talking about Plan Bs at the moment. I’m not sure this Plan B has all the answers, but he sure as hell knows the problem…

The Guardian, Thursday 7 June 2012 

Keith Coggins and Nick Sagar in Ill Manors

Ill Manors is a multi-stranded urban crime drama set in east London, the debut feature film from Ben Drew, otherwise known as singer-songwriterPlan B, and developed from his widely hailed song of the same name, all about the 2011 summer riots. The first half-hour of this movie is great: chaotic, inventive, energetic. But after this, the dynamism worryingly leaks out of the film; it turns out to be disappointingly and determinedly apolitical, while the lairy characters and situations look increasingly forced, derivative and unconvincing, with a touch of Guy Ritchie. By the time Natalie Press turns up, playing a woman forced to work as a prostitute by a sex-trafficking gang, the film has turned into a geezery Brit-Pulp Fiction knockoff. Riz Ahmed – so great in Chris Morris’s Four Lions and Eran Creevy’s Shifty – is at the centre of film, playing a troubled guy called Aaron, but his character is bafflingly flat and dull, and the film’s finale is wildly sentimental.

But the opening has power and flair. It begins with a great rush of energy and a swirl of images from cinematographer Gary Shaw, and a musical track that subtly and rather hauntingly remixes Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals. Using a mix of professional and non-professional actors, Drew sets out to dramatise the despair of those with no prospects other than selling drugs, with no sense of community or identity, which manifests itself partly in a neurotic obsession with their mobile phones, of which they have large numbers, all on pay-as-you-go so that they can’t be traced by “the feds”.

It is all about dysfunction, humiliation and losing face. Pre-teen Jake (Ryan de la Cruz Indiana) tries to buy drugs with £20 that his mate has stolen from his mum; dealer Marcel (Nick Sagar) takes the money but won’t give him the drugs until Jake actually hits the friend who gave him the cash. Having bought acceptance with shame, Jake gets out of his depth in gang culture, and Marcel himself is humiliated by ageing dealer and ex-con Kirby (Keith Coggins), forced to strip naked in the street at gunpoint – and Kirby is himself humiliated by his former protegé Chris (Lee Allen). Meanwhile, hard man Ed (Ed Skrein) terrorises crack-addicted Michelle (Anouska Mond) into having sex with a series of sleazy guys: a truly horrible sequence. With all this, Drew shows how it’s all about male pride and male fear.

There are some strong moments. John Cooper Clarke has a great choric cameo with a poem entitled Pity the Plight of Young Fellows. He floats into view almost surreally, a wraith, a ghost, reciting his work in one corner of a deeply sinister drinking establishment that looks as if it should be featured every week on the Sky 3 programme Britain’s Toughest Pubs. With his black suit, shock of black hair, and behind his enigmatic dark glasses, Clarke almost looks like a post-punk version of TS Eliot’s blind Tiresias, foresuffering all the violence and gangland despair happening heedlessly in front of him. It’s a pleasure to see him, and he is smartly used by Drew, although he does have a humour and maturity that is missing from the rest of film.

With Britain currently euphoric about the Jubilee and the Olympics, and indulging in an orgy of red-white-and-blue, this would certainly be the moment for Drew to puncture the complacency, and talk again about something that the officialdom is so strenuously trying to forget: the riots. His original track was praised for saying something powerful and committed about the disorder. Frankly the film doesn’t; or at least only very cautiously and indirectly, in the sense that it shows the poverty, alienation and despair that arguably created the conditions for violence. Some TV footage at the very beginning alludes to the riots, and a melodramatic moment at the end may be a fictional transformation of one famous news photo. There are the now mandatory shots of Olympic Park and the Olympic Stadium: scenes which are in danger of becoming as cliched in London films as shots of the Gherkin building were a decade ago. These knowing images are being worked pretty hard, and the movie runs out of steam after about half an hour, a kind of extended pop video. Really, Ill Manors looks like many other British urban crime films; it could have been made at almost any time, and there’s not much substance under the urban style.


 07 Jun 2012

The rapper Plan B, aka Ben Drew, makes his directing debut this week with a film that takes the “com” out of “uncompromising”. iLL Manors is hard-hitting in all the worst ways, like being repeatedly thumped by a randomly furious street hawker. What Drew is mainly selling is his own reputation as a poet of the disaffected, but we needn’t buy it. Not on this evidence.

The standard defence of any such grim urban tract is that it’s daring to tell the truth, squaring up to the violence, misogyny and nihilism on London’s estates with an unflinching bravery other filmmakers are too cowardly to exhibit. Here, that’s not just a critic’s recourse but a cred-hungry movie’s inbuilt pose.

It’s important to concede two things: that Drew isn’t glorifying a way of life, and that there’s a certain raw muscle to his visuals. Still, his ear for dark realities is tinnier than a soup cupboard.

The movie transpires over seven days in Forest Gate, introducing us to a motley and interconnected bunch of straggling criminals. The nominal hero is Aaron, a role relying heavily on Riz Ahmed’s natural amiability, but we stray from him frequently into subplots where almost no one is worth getting to know: the vengeance-obsessed drug dealer Chris (Lee Allen) is a waste of whole reels.

Drew interrupts his underpowered storytelling with antically busy rap montages, spliced together from cameraphone and CCTV footage, which only serve to make his lyrics blare out more ostentatiously. “She was once a princess / Now she’s a mess,” we’re told of the unfortunate Michelle (Anouska Mond), who’s yanked around various burger joints to turn tricks for a thuggish dealer called Ed (Ed Skrein).

Many of Drew’s anecdotes are torn from life, where escape routes for these characters could well be thin on the ground, but wanting to liberate them from his imprisoning dirge of a movie is the more urgent priority while you’re in front of it. When Natalie Press arrives, playing an illegal Polish immigrant who abandons her baby to Aaron’s involuntary care on a train, the plotting kicks into both a higher and sillier gear: you may not guess that the infant’s short-term fate is to be dangled from the top floor of a burning pub, but retrospectively it’s all but inevitable.

What Richard Did (2012) Film. Director : Lenny Abrahamson


Ryan Gilbey

The Guardian, Thursday 3 January 2013

Privileged kids … Róisín Murphy and Jack Reynor in What Richard Did

Cinema legend loves the rise of a film-school rookie with a camera, a megaphone and a maxed-out credit card, but that is not Lenny Abrahamson‘s story. When he made his 2004 debut, Adam and Paul, he was already in his late 30s, with an abandoned PhD in philosophy and a career in commercials behind him. “I’m a bit of a late developer generally,” he sighs. “But the good thing about being a filmmaker is you still count as young all the way through your 40s.” He is 46 now, with wispy red hair and soft eyes, and so modest that he squirms visibly when I ask him to pinpoint his place in Irish cinema. “All the taxi drivers inDublin have heard of Neil Jordan and Jim Sheridan. I guess I’m the next one down.”

Three films into his career, he has already established a recognisable sensibility (dryly funny, inquisitive, plangent) and been honoured with a retrospective at the Irish Film Institute. Nigel Andrews of the Financial Times observed that Abrahamson and his regular collaborator Mark O’Halloran “may be the best thing that ever happened to Irish cinema”. O’Halloran, who wrote and starred in Adam and Paul, and scripted the director’s second film,Garage, says of his friend: “He’s enormously respected in Ireland. All the films have done brilliantly at the box office, which is unusual: they’re arthouse films, there’s no two ways about it, and yet they strike a chord. It’s hard to elbow your way into the Cineplex world, but Len has done it: he puts bums on seats.” Those taxi drivers had better get on the case, and fast.

I meet the director one crisp afternoon in a hotel in his native Dublin. The corridors are filled with the hubbub of a spiffy wedding party, while outside 10,000 protesters are taking part in an anti-austerity march. It’s a division to which Abrahamson’s work is alert. He has until now been a poet of the dispossessed. Adam and Paul was a grungy comic odyssey about 24 hours in the lives of two homeless Dublin smackheads: it wasUlysses meets Waiting for Godot with Laurel and Hardy pratfalls. Garage was a melancholy character study about a jovial attendant at a rundown rural petrol station, whose developmental difficulties prevent him from seeing that his entire way of life is doomed.

Abrahamson’s haunting new picture, What Richard Did, retains the confidence and control of its predecessors, but the 18-year-old hero (played by Jack Reynor, recently announced as the lead in the next Transformers movie) could hardly be less of an outsider. He’s handsome, respected, comfortably middle-class, larky with his rugby team-mates and tender toward his girlfriend. But a sense of foreboding permeates the film from the opening seconds when Richard mutters innocuously: “Somebody’s got a problem.” That somebody is him. Prospective viewers unfamiliar with the source material (Kevin Power’s factually-based novel Bad Day in Blackrock) will by this point be asking: what did he do? Let’s preserve the mystery and say only that what Richard did falls outside the category of jolly japes.

“Generally speaking, the misfit’s story is easier to tell,” Abrahamson says. “I’ve done it myself – twice. Richard is a good guy, but good guys are complex, too. I was thinking about those boys and the pressure they’re under, their inability to deal with fractures in that perfect sphere of life. It’s the kind of situation we all know, where we disappoint ourselves, and we have to deal with the disjunction between what we would like to be and what we are. I was interested in the narrative of how we nurture our elite in this society: all that stuff about believing in yourself and not accepting second best. Our inner world is at odds with that. What’s fascinating about a boy of Richard’s age is that he still believes his own bullshit. If you meet an adult who believes his own schtick to that extent, you’re talking about someone like Simon Cowell – you know, a monster. But at 18 or 19, it’s naively-held and it can be attractive.”

The picture is characterised by subtly disorienting ellipses and stylistic tensions. Sometimes the cinematography is as pretty as Terrence Malick at magic hour; elsewhere, the actors are stalked by a predatory steadicam. Through it all, Abrahamson’s curiosity about his subjects is palpable. “I like to feel that the implied director of the film is a slightly academic, tweedy figure. He’s scratching his chin, asking: ‘What is this person doing? Let me get in a little closer.’ I pitched it as a kind of natural history project where I take this tribe and see if I can understand what’s going on with them.” That said, What Richard Did takes place much more in Abrahamson’s own world than either of his previous films. As a privately-educated, middle-class filmmaker, he has experienced different sorts of class hostility. “Occasionally you get people saying: ‘Who’d want to watch something about these privileged kids?’ And with Adam and Paul, you’d sometimes hear: ‘Who the hell does he think he is, making a film about homeless drug addicts?’ But I live in this country: I can talk about anything I like in my work. I feel very bullish about that.”

If Abrahamson speaks eloquently about the insecurities that plague Richard, it may be because he has experienced his own. He made a splash in his early 20s with several short films before sidelining his career to accept a scholarship to Stanford to study philosophy. “As soon as I got there, I felt really unsure. I loved the subject but I felt lonely, and I was aching to do something in film. Then once I was back in Dublin six months later, I thought: ‘What have I chucked away?'” He began rising later and later each day until he found he was sitting at his typewriter through the night. “It was this weird nocturnal existence. I was miserable and I was producing nothing I liked.” An escape route came through directing commercials: his witty, glossy lager ads depicting male fantasy worlds (the “Carlsberg doesn’t do …” series) were something of a phenomenon. “It was a chance for me to test whether I could pull off this filmmaking thing after all.” He could. It marked one of the few occasions anyone’s professional prospects had been improved by alcohol.

Even once Adam and Paul was made –for half the budget of one of those 60-second lager ads – there was a brief period of uncertainty for Abrahamson. “I remember a Q&A I did in Wales where there were five people in the auditorium. One guy who was really pissed came up on stage halfway through to give me a big hug.” He laughs. “So my hopes weren’t high.” But Adam and Paul caught on: the reviews were glowing, the Withnail and I comparisons richly deserved, the humour scabrous and poignant. “There was a tone in Adam and Paul that I was trying to get toward,” says O’Halloran. “Len understood it and knew exactly what to do with it: he encouraged me to go further. I was really lucky to meet him.”

This month, Abrahamson begins shooting another comedy: Frank, his most ambitious project yet. Set partly at the SXSW festival (with Albuquerque standing in for Austin), it will star Michael Fassbender as an enigmatic, agoraphobic musician who rarely emerges from beneath his giant fake head. That detail is inspired by the eccentric Mancunian performer Frank Sidebottom – the film is co-written by the Guardian’s Jon Ronson, a former member of Sidebottom’s band – but Abrahamson insists the character stands in for all music’s outsiders.

Peruse the film’s potentially volatile ingredients (rock’n’roll comedy, European director working for the first time in America) and you would be forgiven for thinking: “Uh-oh – This Must Be the Place.” But fear not. Abrahamson is a devout minimalist who has yet to direct a film that’s over 90 minutes long. “I always think I want to make something at the other end of the spectrum. Not quite Almodóvar, but maybe slightly extravagant. Then I end up doing the minimalism thing. I’m looking for an intensity of focus. It’s a bit like tuning a guitar string. You tighten and tighten and nothing really changes until you hit that tension and suddenly it’s there: you’ve got a note.”

Peter Bradshaw

The Guardian, Thursday 10 January 2013

Irish director Lenny Abrahamson emerges with his third feature as a premier league film-maker. Each of his movies looks different from the others – there are no repeated auteurist mannerisms – and yet the potent, creative intelligence behind them is plain. His first film, Adam and Paul (2004), had something of Beckett with its two smackheads at large in Dublin; his second, Garage (2007), was a tragicomedy about a lonely petrol station attendant in a higher social-realist style (though working with same writer, Mark O’Halloran).

What Richard Did is something else again. Written by Malcolm Campbell, it’s a complex, subtle drama about self-confident teenagers that draws on two traditions: American teen-noir such as Carrie or Heathers, and European dramas of group dysfunction such as those by Vinterberg and Haneke. I can imagine it getting remade by Hollywood – or in Danish. The lead character’s father is played by Lars Mikkelsen, brother of Mads, the star of Vinterberg’s The Hunt. The milieu is Dublin’s prosperous and status-conscious social elite, a sleek and well-heeled group that existed before, during and after the Celtic Tiger boom.

The adolescent alpha male at the story’s centre is Richard, played by Jack Reynor with an open, handsome face that registers his character’s sense of good-natured entitlement. Richard is a high-achiever, a schoolboy rugby star. With easy, worldly confidence, he hangs out with his buddies and a crowd of adoring girls: they have parties at his parents’ beach house, and he is introduced to people almost like a politician or celebrity. Tension sets in when Richard decides he has fallen for Lara (Róisin Murphy), the pretty girlfriend of teammate Conor (Sam Keeley). The result is slow-burning and disturbing. Abrahamson shows that whatever the failings and weaknesses of the young, it is their elders who insist on wriggling away from blame. What Richard Did is an engrossing and intelligent drama that throbs in the mind for hours after the final credits.

Directed by Lenny Abrahamson. Starring Jack Reynor, Roisin Murphy, Sam Keeley, Gavin Drea, Lars Mikkelsen, Lorraine Pilkington 15 cert, general release, 87 min

This low-key drama of young swells in South Dublin is powerfully affecting, writesTARA BRADY

WHAT RICHARD DID opens with three young men in a car cruising between the get-togethers and hook-ups of a pre-college summer. The driver is schoolboy rugby star Richard (Jack Reynor), a “super- rich” kid with a car, access to the family beach house and a charmed life. He has never wanted for anything and, sure enough, when he sets his sights on Lara (Roísín Murphy), he seems to easily win her over from Conor (Sam Keeley)

Sadly, our hero’s insecurities and defenses soon work to sabotage the blossoming romance. Too alpha male to stomach Lara’s continuing friendship with Conor, Richard is carelessly drawn into an after-party scuffle, a melange with devastating consequences.

Lenny Abrahamson’s first film, Adam and Paul, featured the lowest rung of society at the height of the boom. What Richard Did, conversely, reminds us that, even during times of economic crisis, the rich will always be with us.

As with everything else in the movie, Abrahamson is not flash with the cash. The film’s patient, naturalistic depiction of teen life – created over eight months of character workshopping with the young cast – simply doesn’t allow for ideological grandstanding. Talking points are kept on the lowdown. Important themes are slyly confined to throwaway, background details.

If Garage was made under the sign of Tarkovsky, this one’s for Bergman. The screenplay, by Shameless scribe Malcolm Campbell, studiously avoids the smoking guns found in Gus van Sant’s Elephant and the bad seed grotesquerie of We Need to Talk About Kevin in favour of thoughtful Scandinavian rhythms.

The characters are nuanced and brilliantly realised: the kids are privileged yet have little in common with the amoral, spoiled monsters that populate Larry Clarke’s similarly paced Bully. They slip off for drinks and sex in the park but they also do school spirit and say thank you. Richard behaves callously but mostly cluelessly.

The clean, casual lines of David Grennan’s cinematography add to the sensation that we’re watching a greatly needed antidote to an entire hysterical history of delinquent youths on screen. There are no direct references to the source novel (Kevin Power’s Bad Day in Blackrock) or the case that preceded it. There are only imperfect teens with imperfect lives ahead.

London Film Festival 2012: What Richard Did Review

October 17, 2012

Lenny Abrahamson continues his exploration of contemporary Irish hardship with his third feature, What Richard Did, a disturbing, tightly-knit drama which fires off in unexpected directions, but is at all times perfectly wrought, at once delivering white-knuckle suspense and searing emotional resonance.

Our first sight in the film is of Richard (Jack Reynor) and his mates, who are at the tail-end of their summer holidays, and fancifully enjoying life. The authentic dialogue, as the guys dick around telling stories doesn’t merely get points for realism; it’s also bracingly funny, too. The naturalism of the performances is perhaps no better realised than when we meet Richard’s on-again-off-again girlfriend, Lara (Roisin Murphy); Murphy and Reynor’s palpable chemistry, and their inherent, glowing appeal, makes them a fun pair to watch, even as things slowly but surely begin to get uncomfortable.

The first half of Abrahamson’s film clips along on the merits of just how affable Richard is; the girls have it for him and he’s an eminently likable presence among the lads, so we’re left wondering, what exactly did he do? It is this suspense that keeps us glued during the getting-to-know-you dialogues early on; the very title of the piece meanwhile oscillates in our mind throughout. Non-linear sound editing – nimbly fragmenting dialogue into the next scene – also helps to prevent us from getting too settled.

As tension continues to build, examining the nature of the male ego in particular, this quiet dread eventually gives way to a savage and uncharacteristic act that will haunt Richard and the majority of the other characters for the film’s remainder. From this moment, What Richard Did switches gears to become an intense thriller-drama of sorts, quietly suspenseful as we’re reminded of the power that one instant of poor judgement can harness. Abrahamson’s taut, breathless direction keeps the drama high and the characters ever in flux, as blame is constantly shifted while various members of the group attempt to assuage their guilt.

Jack Reynor’s central performance is a revelation, a confrontation of the self that is more internal than external, requiring him to express more with a pained countenance than through expository moral quandaries. A primal breakdown near the end of the film might under lesser circumstances feel overly affected, but given Richard’s overwhelming guilt, it feels visceral and unsettlingly raw. One tell-all with his father (played splendidly by Lars Mikkelsen) late in the day, meanwhile, is utterly remarkable.

It’s a wrenching, rich, character-driven film about a young man haunted by a powerful force, perpetually anxiety-inducing in its second half as it surrenders the full, soul-decaying measure of guilt’s power; the ending, needless to say, is a nail-biter alright. Doing the right thing is never as easy as it seems in Lenny Abrahamson’s sublimely acted and almost unbearably tense drama.

Den Skaldede Frisør (Love You Is All You Need) (2002) Film. Director : Susanne Bier

Love-Is-All-You-Need affiche

A Danish woman, Ida (Trine Dyrholm), who has just finished her cancer treatments, walks in on her suffering husband in bed with his young co-worker. She travels alone to their daughter’s wedding, which is to take place in Italy, but meets the father of the groom, Philip (Pierce Brosnan), and immediately makes a bad first impression. At the seaside villa where Philip once lived with his wife, conflicts arise not least between the soon-to-be newlyweds. But first impressions fade, and Ida may find her chance for another life. (imdb)

Philip (Pierce Brosnan), an Englishman living in Denmark, is a lonely, middle-aged widower and estranged single father. Ida (Trine Dyrholm) is a Danish hairdresser, recuperating from a long bout of illness, who’s just been left by her husband for a younger woman. The fates of these two bruised souls are about to intertwine, as they embark for Italy to attend the wedding of Philip’s son and Ida’s daughter. With warmth, affection and confidence, Bier has shaken a cocktail of love, loss, absurdity, humour and delicately drawn characters who will leave only the hardest heart untouched. This is a film about the simple yet profound pains and joys of moving on – and forward – with your life. –TIFF

By , Chief Film Critic 04 Sep 2012 

Away from the torture, incest and sundry degradations of the most recent batch of competition films at Venice this year, Pierce Brosnan has given critics something to smile about.

He stars in the innocuously-titled but gloriously enjoyable Love is All You Need, the latest film from the Danish director Susanne Bier, whose considerably more sober thriller In A Better World won the foreign language Oscar in 2011.

Brosnan plays Philip, a widower and big noise on the Copenhagen fruit and vegetable wholesale scene who is hosting his son’s wedding at his villa in Sorrento. Also in attendance is the mother of the bride, Ida (Trine Dyrholm), a cancer survivor who has just completed a course of chemotherapy but is still awaiting the final all-clear.

Ida’s tubby husband has absconded with the girl from accounts, so she, like Philip, is without a date. As they make the final preparations for their offspring’s nuptials, the flames of love start to catch, although Philip’s vulturous sister-in-law Bendikte (Paprika Steen) is also trying to kindle a romance of her own.

Bier’s film is not an out-and-out romantic comedy so much as a romance with some very funny moments, although the wedding backdrop and holiday setting are both strong reminders of Mamma Mia. Brosnan looks as if he might be about to burst into song at any moment: imagine how delightful it is whenever he doesn’t.

Just as the postcard-perfect setting has some chipped plaster and faded paint around its edges, so Bier’s photogenic characters all have their own sadnesses and vulnerabilities to bear. Anders Thomas Jensen’s script, which is just about equal parts English and Danish, is packed with humour that springs from recognisable human foibles, and Brosnan and Dyrholm have fizzingly good chemistry together. The younger cast members are given less to do, although the striking Danish actress Molly Blixt Egelind, who plays the bride-to-be, is definitely one to watch.

Love is All You Need has been made for an audience rarely catered for by the film industry: intelligent adults who enjoy perceptive and good-hearted drama. The chatter on the Lido was that Bier’s film was another Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, but for me it’s far better, and comes from a more truthful, less cartoonish place. Think of it as a kind of wholemeal alternative: all of the pleasure, none of the guilt.