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Susanne Bier on 'the beauty of romantic comedy'

Cancer-themed movies tend to be grueling and very heavy affairs. Oscar winning Danish director Susanne Bier’s crowdpleaser Love Is All You Need is surely one of the only forays into the genre that can be labeled a romantic comedy.

Speaking in Venice after the film’s world premiere, Bier said “everybody involved in this film has had a close relationship with cancer.”

Her own mother (who was on the Lido to support the screening) has battled breast cancer twice. The writer Anders Thomas Jensen’s mother died from cancer and the star Pierce Brosnan had a wife who died from the disease.

“My mother has this spirit. She is an extremely light and positive person…she would all the time figure out a way of seeing something positive in a situation that is very painful,” the director acknowledged of the inspiration she drew close to home. “There is nothing in the actual story that has to do with her story but her character traits are built upon.”

Bier was determined to make a film that was “comedic” and “light” in spite of the film featuring a female protagonist (played by Trine Dyrlholm) who had lost a breast, is forced to wear a wig and is being cheated on by her husband.

“That’s not just a terrible, painful thing. It’s also an extremely threatening lack of female identity. Somehow to gain James Bond was wonderful,” she said of the casting of Brosnan. “But more importantly, he was the right person for it.”

Bier is already on post-production on a new movie, Serena, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. However, she refused to be drawn on future projects or to confirm whether or not she will be directing the Hanning Mankell scripted biopic of Swedish filmmaking legend Ingmar Bergman.

Love Is All You Need, warmly received by audiences in Venice, is now sold out by TrustNordisk. “The beauty of romantic comedy is that we know how it is going to end. It is (about) how much we enjoy getting there,” Bier reflected. “I’ve mostly done more heavy dramatic things but it’s a movie that I am very proud and which I think will reach an audience and yet touch on very difficult subjects. I’ve read a number of scripts dealing with cancer and i haven’t wanted to do any because I don’t want to add to the stigma of something that is already so anxiety-ridden…nobody is not connected to someone who had cancer.”

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