Director: Susanne Bier
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Trine Dyrholm, Kim Bodnia, Paprika Steen, Sebastian Jessen, Molly Blixt Egelind
Written by: (and story) Anders Thomas Jensen and (story) Susanna Bier
Running Time: 116 mins
Release date: 19th April 2013
After a score of Danish and Scandinavian murder thrillers like the excellent The Killing, it’s nice to know that they turn their hand at much fluffier stuff as well, like this well-meaning and charming romantic comedy that catches you off guard slightly in the fact it has Pierce Brosnan taking a lead. Yes, this is mainly spoken in Danish with Pierce trying his hand at a few words. This isn’t all about the former Bond, though.
Ida isn’t having the best of times. Having battled with breast cancer and losing all her hair, she prepares to head off to Italy where her daughter is marrying the son of Philip, a disgruntled fruit seller and widower. Ida catches her husband with a girl who works for him and is now off alone. After crashing into Philip with her car and not making the best of first impressions, the pair now must stay in Philip’s lemon orchard as the days before their children’s wedding approach. With all kinds of family traumas occurring around her, Ida finds that the only person who can help her through the insanity of the coming nuptials is the one man who she thought she would hate…Philip.
There is no denying that Susanna Biel’s film is as light and as airy as an Angel Delight but this isn’t such a bad thing. Often than not, romantic comedies don’t work because they are neither that romantic or that funny. This, at least, has the good charm of being both. Setting most of the action on an idyllic part of Italy helps too. Biel obviously loves the setting and it is absolutely beautiful to view, with dream-like shots of sunsets, the amazing mountain range, it is like a small piece of heaven.
Then we have the story. The main focus of the film, Ida and Philip’s growing romance, is so deftly handled that you cannot help but be swept along with it. You genuinely want these two very different people with their own heartaches to get together. Throw into the mix an ensemble of subplots involving Philips’s more than amorous sister-in-law, a marriage relationship that is on a knife’s edge and a husband with no idea of tact, which is sometimes a little uneven but you are constantly returning to this ever blossoming relationship between the two main characters.
While most of the time the cast are perfect, there are a few slight blips. Sebastian Jessen, as Philip’s son, Patrick, is a little weak. Struggling with the English at some points, he doesn’t really convince and while Molly Blixt Egelind looks the part of the imperfect bride-to-be, Astrid, a few times she slips and isn’t as strong as the surrounding company. Kim Bodnia is good as the unfaithful husband and supplies some of the best laughs, while Paprika Steen is perfectly sickly as the lovelorn Benedikte, who is lusting after Patrick and makes a very uncomfortable dinner speech which will have you cringing.
The film, however, belongs to the leads. In a role he has become suited to playing, Brosnan does a fine job as the tough, single-minded Patrick who refuses to let anyone come into his life, even though his wife has been dead for some time, yet slowly starts to mellow to Ida’s charms. There are some very touching and believable moments from the Irish actor and it’s a very assured and polished performance. Thank goodness he didn’t spoil it by singing.
The true star of this gem is Trine Dyrholm as Ida. Alec Baldwin calls her “the best actress ever” and it is easy to see why. She is magnificent as the former cancer victim who wears the blonde wig and whose life is in ruins. She is sweet, funny, emotional, and just lovely and you cannot help but warm to her. You want her to find happiness. You want her to make the right decisions. It is a rare thing when an actress can hook you in and Ms Dyrholm does that, with those big blue eyes that tell so much. Hopefully this will be the breakthrough movie for her as she deserves the world to take note of her.
I didn’t expect to like this film as much as I did. It’s not perfect by any means and there are some moments that work brilliantly and others that fall flat on their face. It does have several winning formulas and the ending couldn’t be more perfect. A film that will touch those who see it and I do advise you to see it. I can safely say I fell for its charms. Hope I’m not getting soft in my old age?