Dir: Susanne Bier. Denmark. 2012. 112mins
In her first outing since her Oscar-winning In A Better World, Susanne Bier and her co-writer, Anders Thomas Jensen come up with a natural born winner, a romantic comedy that pulls out all the stops, uses all of the genre’s classic formulas.
Dyrholm’s eyes shine every time she turns them on the camera.
With a charmingly debonair Pierce Brosnan in one of the leads and Trine Dyrholm, one of the finest Danish actresses of her generation, opposite him it is certain to become one of the crowd pleasers of the season. The film screened out of competition at the Venice Film Festival.
Ida (Dyrholm), a Danish hairdresser, is being told that her chemotherapy treatment has been completed, but it will take months before her cure is certain. Going home to her loving husband (Kim Bodnia), or so she believes, she finds him on the sofa having sex with the blonde floozy (Christiane Schaumburg-Muller) from the accounting department. Terribly hurt, she decides however to put on a brave face and attend her daughter’s wedding in Italy…though now the two spouses will go there on different flights.
Meanwhile, Ida’s daughter Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind) and her future husband, Patrick (Sebastien Jensen) are already at the villa in Sorrento, preparing for the ceremony, while back in Copenhagen once again Patrick’s father Philip (Brosnan), a fruit and vegetable tycoon who is the owner of the villa, has his birthday celebrated by his loving staff before embarking for the wedding as well.
At the airport, Ida backs her car into Philip’s luxurious limousine, a bad way to get acquainted but surely anyone who has ever seen a romantic comedy can guess by now that all the mildly nasty remarks they exchange in the first minutes are only temporary, before the arrival of a happy ending.
Just in case this cast might appear to be insufficient, there are few more supporting characters to deal with. There is Philip’s blowsy sister-in-law Benedikte (a high spirited Paprika Steen), loud, noisy and a past master of the faux pas; her adolescent daughter from a previous marriage with a drinking problem; a couple of Italian caretakers introducing the inevitable gay element into the picture and quite a few more.
Then there is the gorgeous villa, the lemon grove around it, the sunrises and the sunsets and lots. How and why all these people converge on screen doesn’t really matter too much, as the plot is engineered carefully enough never to appear nonsensical, sets and the scenery are glorious and the cinematography is glowing.
Nothing really surprising or original is taking place here, but Dyrholm’s eyes shine every time she turns them on the camera and if there is one thing wrong with Brosnan, it is that he never appears to be as bad as his character is reputed to be.
But no one will ever complain about that. By the end of it, there will be just one or two tears shed, just enough to justify the rules of the genre, and finally the great big hug that everyone expects from the very beginning. What audience will resist that?
Production company: Zentropa Entertainment29
Producers: Sisse Graum Jorgensen, Vibeke Windelov
International Sales: TrustNordisk, www.trustnordisk.com
Screenplay: Susanne Bier, Anders Thomas Jensen
Cinematography: Morten Soborg
Editors: Pernille Bech Christensen, Morten Egholm
Production designer: Peter Grant
Music: Johan Soderqvist
Main cast: Trine Dyrholm, Pierce Brosnan, Molly Blixt Egelind, Sebastien Jensen, Paprika Steen, Kim Bodnia, Christiane Schaumburg-Muller, Micky Skeel Hansen