** (out of four)
No, the Italian-set Danish romantic comedy “Love Is All You Need” has nothing to do with The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love.” Based on the movie's low quantity of romance, it may as well be called “The Walrus I Am.”
Pierce Brosnan stars as Phillip, a workaholic so closed off in the years since his wife passed away that he actually says, “I’m the guy who’s chosen to be by himself.” In an airport parking lot, his car gets an accidental bump from Ida (a strong Trine Dyrholm of director Susanne Bier’s Oscar-winning “In a Better World”), the mother of the girl that Phillip’s son will soon marry after knowing each other only three months. More fortuitous: Ida’s somewhat available. Returning early from a breast cancer check-up, she caught her portly husband cheating with a younger woman far too attractive for him.
Excuses don't get much worse than, “I thought you were at chemo.” (Looking at you, John Edwards.)
Any perception of sophistication in “Love” proves to be a ruse. Though only periodically in English, the film may as well be an American romantic comedy. I mean this as an insult. It’s a joyless, extremely predictable film made worse by Bier’s total lack of flair for the location. Including two sung and two acoustic versions of “That’s Amore” just feels lazy. It’s hard to make a story about love set in Italy not make you want to travel there, but Bier’s done it.
Inevitably, there’s a bitchy aunt who has the hots for Phillip and a wrench in the bride and groom’s plans that has no satisfying resolution. That’s not to say the film courts ambiguity at all—even after a continuous commitment to the obvious, the occasionally funny “Love Is All You Need” discovers a chance at depth and then completely rejects it.
It’s not often that I say you’re better off renting “Letters to Juliet.”
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