Ida (Trine Dyrholm) is coming through a period of ill health, where she has got to the point where she is hoping the breast cancer she has suffered will finally be banished. But she still has a few months of tests and therapy to go, though she tells her doctor she is not bothered about having reconstructive surgery, as after all her husband Leif (Kim Bodnia) won't notice the scar anyway, he's happy as long as she keeps making him the lemon dessert she is so accomplished at. The doctor suggests they go away together for a holiday, and it just so happens the couple's daughter Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind) is getting married in Italy...
Which sounds perfect for them, and especially Ida, to have a little time away in an attractive part of the world watching their offpsring's wedding, what could be better? Well, how about Ida not returning home shortly before they are about to leave to stumble upon Leif shagging one of his work colleagues, a young blonde who he goes on to announce since his wife's illness has been very hard on him as well, that he must now seek solace in arms of the younger woman, so bye bye Ida. Just when she thought her life was getting back into shape, her recurring bad luck returns to blight it, but is it bad luck or is it simply the results of people behaving according to all their flaws?
Love Is All You Need was not director Susanne Bier's preferred title for her film, as in Danish it translated as The Bald Hairdresser (meaning Ida), which suggests the distributors outside Denmark were seeking a far more traditional romcom audience than perhaps suited it. But in its way, this was prime material for those who would be interested, as there was a touch or two of the fairy tale about the plot with its Prince Charming sweeping the lead character off her feet, yet there was also the sort of occurrences that you couldn't imagine most of the movies labelled as romcoms would include, included here. If cancer was mentioned in a Hollywood movie, it wouldn't be in a film like that.
Especially when we are not sure until the very end whether Ida is going to get the all-clear, which in another's hands might have been the driving force behind the plot, yet here is more in the background; we're aware she may be living on borrowed time, but encouraged that she might be doing her best to continue as though she is not a slave to the disease. In Hollywood, a favourite cliché of the romcom writer would be to have the lead fall over to demonstrate her lack of aptitude with love, friendship, diginity, whatever and to bring her down not so much to our level but to a level below us so we can appreciate her clambering out of her hole to succeed in love by the end. With Bier there was nothing so patronising, however.
So yes, Ida has a run of bad luck, but she's no fool, it makes her human, and she's not alone in the film for having drawbacks afflict her. When she heads off to Italy and the wedding, the problems don't stop as she bumps her car into another vehicle in the airport car park, which to make things worse belongs to the father of Astrid's fiancée Patrick (Sebastian Jessen). Said father being played by an actor no stranger to being the old smoothie in romantic situations, Pierce Brosnan, here as fruit and veg importer Philip, a very wealthy man and just the sort of wish fulfilment figure a movie like this needs. Although even he is not without his pain, as he has lost his wife to a road accident some time before, and it seems to have closed him down to any affection. Now, obviously we can tell these two will be just right for each other, but if you could take away anything from this it was how unlikely it was that any relationship works out; Bier presents her characters as defective at best, which can be very funny, but gives an edge making ultimate happiness that more hard won. Music by Johan Söderqvist.