Review: Love Is All You Need (Can Make You Believe It's True)

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The sole female of the Dogme95 legacy, Oscar Winner Susanne Bier enters international waters for a fluffy winter romance with all the traditional flourishes, and so much charm it’s unchartable.

Ida (Trine Dryhold) may be in ‘complete remission’ from breast cancer but when she returns from her inhumane doctor's office she finds her husband behaving with another lack of humanity…on their couch with their girl from accounting. Though he’s a cruel and unthinking dolt, Trine insists on working through what she calls “Leif’s confusion,” especially as their daughter’s wedding is coming and her children are her ever-loving concern. The family they’re marrying is marked by a death—that of the groom’s mother—and the loss transformed the groom’s father Phillip (Pierce Brosnan) into an empty workaholic, and made his son desperate for paternal approval. When Ida and Phillip meet, they see the worst first and call each other on it. But when the Mediterranean coast casts its “rosy fingers” over them, the world is beautiful and full of wonder, even despite hornball husbands, confused groomsmen and gaudy, conniving sisters-in-law.

The film is hindered by the Cinderella syndrome (Ida asks Phillip: “You could have any woman. Why me?”) and its framing device strains to provide structure, but that’s all easy to forgive. This is the loveliest, most patient and gentle romance I’ve seen in some time.

Ida is beset by competitors: the younger accountant in too much blue eyeliner and Paprika Steen, playing it big with an orange spray tan and a way of selling herself like a one night stand with a livelong tab. Both women sell sex blindly and dumbly, which amps up Ida’s desirability but also casts her as sexless in comparison. In the midst of the stress of the wedding, Ida goes for a skinny dip in the sea and when Phillip finds her he castigates her for it. She’s completely naked and just as completely nonsexual. In the first scene, her doctor asks her if she wants counseling for the loss of her breasts. She says she’s loved for her inner values; that’s what matters to her husband. Clearly she’s misinformed, but she can be loved for her “inner values,” and not because she’s been neutered of breasts and there’s no passion left for her—because if you live like Love Is All You Need, the coast can cleanse you and make it so.

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