It's rare to find a romance that's actually based on such vivid characters as these, but then this is from Oscar-winning filmmaker Susanne Bier (In a Better World), who knows how to root films in people rather than plot structure. And even more important: this is a romance about middle-aged people we can genuinely engage with, as they have been beaten down by life and are in need of a fresh start.
It starts in Copenhagen, where hairdresser Ida (Dyrholm) has just finished cancer treatment when she discovers that her husband Leif (Bodnia) is sleeping with a young airhead (Schaumburg-Miller). Now she has to pack her son (Hansen) off to war before heading to Italy for the marriage of daughter Astrid (Egelind) to her boyfriend Patrick (Jessen). Then at the airport, Ida has an unlucky run-in with Patrick's tetchy father Philip (Brosnan), who has focussed only on his work since his wife died. And even as Ida catches his eye, he has to fend off the advances of his lovelorn sister-in-law Benedikte (Steen).
With a group of people gathering for a wedding on an idyllic Mediterranean island, the plot may seem like Mamma Mia without the music. But there are surprising details in the characters as the farce develops, and only a couple of the plot-lines get silly. The central love story is actually remarkably sweet, using Ida's and Philip's troubled histories to make their interaction both snappier and more deeply emotional than we expect. And Bier, working with her usual screenwriter Jensen, are free to let other narrative strands come and go around them.
So even if their story is predictable, Brosnan and Dyrholm find a wonderfully offhanded chemistry that generates genuine emotion as it develops. It's even intriguing that the central drama about the marriage itself is always seen through their eyes, from Patrick's personal issues to Leif's ill-conceived decision to bring his mistress to Italy with him. Brosnan hasn't been this relaxed on-screen in a long time, and while watching him and Dyrholm inch towards each other isn't unexpected, it's utterly charming.
Run time: 116 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 6th September 2012
Box Office USA: $1.6M
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics
Production compaines: Wingspan Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Fresh: 76 Rotten: 27
IMDB: 6.6 / 10
Director: Susanne Bier
Producer: Sisse Graum Jorgensen, Vibeke Windelov
Screenwriter: Anders Thomas Jensen
As with his Formula One documentary Senna, filmmaker Asaf Kapadia cleverly uses archival footage to...
This declining franchise really needed a jolt to the head, but the producers disappointingly opt...
Resisting the temptation to capitalise on the camp value of these characters, Channing Tatum and...
Wacky enough to make us smile but never laugh out loud, this screwball comedy harks...
A relentless onslaught of violent action, this movie is notable mainly because there's a woman...
First-time feature filmmaker John Maclean takes a strikingly original approach to the Western, creating a...
Despite this being a film about Sherlock Holmes, the fact that it's not much of...
Both shameless and shamelessly entertaining, this relentlessly boyish movie carries on exactly as the TV...