Movie Review: Love is All You Need

Movie Review: Love is All You Need

Love lacks in Love is All You Need

By Mark HadleyFriday 14 Dec 2012MoviesReading Time: 3 minutes

Love is lacking in 'Love is All You Need'.

Rating: M
Distributor: Madman
Release Date: December 13

I remember years ago being daunted by the idea of watching what some people called ‘alternative cinema’. Places like the Dendy intimidated me simply because they weren’t displaying the posters for Star Wars and Harry Potter that I could see outside my local megaplex.

But one day I realized that what they specialized in were cinematic insights into less travelled storylines, and that opened the door to profound features like Life Is Beautiful and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. The Danish/English soundtrack of Love Is All You Need slots it neatly into that alternative genre. Unfortunately it doesn’t live up to the giants that have come before.

Pierce Brosnan heads a multinational cast attending the wedding of two young lovers who have met in Denmark and intend to marry in Italy. Brosnan plays the father Philip and it’s his family villa that is the chosen location. He hasn’t been back there since the death of his wife, a tragic event that has driven him into workaholism. While the young couple begin to doubt the sincerity of their affections, Philip strikes up a relationship with the bride’s mother. Ida has successfully survived breast cancer, only to discover that her husband is having an affair and wants a divorce. Shattered, she is left to consider what makes life truly worth living. Her desire to live and love has a profound effect on Philip whose anger at the world melts away in the presence of her joy. 

Love Is All You Need packs its moral in its title. The young couple realise that they don’t have the love they need to commit to each other for life, and so decide not to go through with the ceremony. Ida grasps that she doesn’t have to remain in a loveless marriage, even though her husband comes to the conclusion he’s made a mistake. And Philip comprehends that love is enough to overcome his sadness over losing his first wife and his fears about taking a second. It’s all beautifully shot, artfully written and immensely frustrating. I’m not talking about the strange mixture of English and Danish that peppers the conversation; that’s actually quite European. It’s the complete lack of understanding of what love truly is.

Alternative cinema might introduce us to unusual characters coping with strange situations, but when it comes to love it can still make all the mistakes of a Hollywood blockbuster. Love Is All You Need joins the ranks of Titanic and Sex In The City in mistaking affection and even lust for love. There’s nothing wrong with these emotions in the right context of course but they arise from love, they do not give birth to it. Love is a decision to put someone’s benefit before your own, to commit to them come Hell or high water, and love is exactly what Love Is All You Need is lacking. The young couple do not commit to each other because they lack the feelings that love actually produces. By contrast, Philip is attracted to Ida because he makes her feel better, even though he knows little or nothing about her.

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More importantly, though no-one could doubt that Ida is in a bad marriage, her desire not to forgive or persevere in the face of her husband’s repentance is actually a reflection of his self-centred thinking. 

The Bible agrees that love is the key ingredient to any successful relationship, though it is most obviously present when storm clouds gather than when the sun is shining. Paul writes to the Christians at Colossae encouraging them to bear with each other and use the decision to love as the glue to repair broken relationships:

“Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Love is indeed all you need, though there’s little to be found in Love Is All You Need.