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

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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.

In a Better World (2010) ( Hævnen ) Film. Director : Susanne Bier

Few directors have addressed the issues of the past decade as courageously as Denmark’s Susanne Bier. With the much celebrated Brothers, she raised troubling questions about the First World’s relationship with the Third. After the Wedding pursued this subject further, contrasting the conflicting demands of the domestic and the societal. Her latest, In a Better World, explores similar terrain while offering a devastating critique of masculinity.

In a war-torn African nation, physician Anton (Everlasting Moments’s Mikael Persbrandt) confronts a steady stream of tragedy and loss. Much of what he faces can be traced back to a vicious and sadistic local warlord. Back home in Denmark, his estranged wife, Marianne (Trine Dyrholm), is concerned about their eldest son, Elias, who is picked on mercilessly by the class bully, Sofus.

When new kid Christian arrives in class, he and Elias bond over a mutual hatred of Sofus. Surly and vicious since the loss of his mother, Christian is hardening into a rigid and ferocious manifestation of masculinity. His heartbroken father, Claus (Ulrich Thomsen), is finding it impossible to cope with Christian’s behaviour. The volatile situation is exacerbated by Anton’s return home and by an encounter between Anton, Elias, Christian and a violent, bullying mechanic (_Pusher_’s Kim Bodnia).

At the heart of the film is the issue of male responsibility, specifically what it means to stand up for yourself and others. Troubled and confused by what he faced in Africa, Anton has no credible response to Christian’s demand that he answer the mechanic’s abusive behaviour in kind. The painful, dangerous rift between Christian and Claus, and the growing distance between Elias and his distracted parents, only makes the situation worse. Left alone to solve their problems, Elias and Christian grow even closer. As their clandestine acts of vengeance become more drastic, the film builds to an almost unbearable intensity. Far more than a mere exercise in suspense, the film raises essential questions about a world that has grown increasingly complex. –TIFF