I’m a sucker for a tale of widowers, betrayed and overly-tested Danish beauties and the oddities of Nordic Romance. It’s got a steady, cool eye on life this film. Pierce Brosnan leads as the businessman widower – uptight and full of work – and Trine Dyrholm the deeply unlucky hairdresser who….well… She is sick with cancer, lost in the betrayals of her bleatingly selfish husband, and unloved. So, two souls, bereft in the cruelties of middle-age (although, you know, both beautiful), stumbling towards the old truth: Love Is All You Need.
As ever, the story that dances around them is one of the young, but the film is told from the oldsters point of view. Which is refreshing. Their children are getting married in Sorrento, so our oldster heroes meet when she drives into his car at the airport. Much grouchiness and timidity plays out until all the families meet in the old house Brosnan used to share with his deceased wife in gorgeous Italy.
Meanwhile…Brosnan and Dyrholm’s children have intimacy issues, but are ploughing ahead with the wedding party nonetheless. She craves some sexy times; he says he’s keen to wait, whilst looking away a few too many times and…okay…the issue isn’t a big surprise when it reaches daylight, but it’s nice to see youthful romance frustrated by life as well. Ha, thought old Jack, shifting my aching arse on the comfort cushion, a story about middle-age that shows the young for the flakey irritants they can be.
And the rest is family: the ex sister-in-law pawing the ground for a bit of Brosnan; the ex husband turning up with his young lover from Accounts; said lover being full of opinions; all intrusions upon the real story. We watch Brosnan (Philip) and Dyrholm (Ida) edge around one another, embarrassed or irritated as the scene demands, stood on parallel balconies in the sunshine, much like life.
And then there’s the scenery. You can’t knock the Italian coast for its beauty. Even the touristy bits of Sorrento, occasionally dipped into as the wedding party hunt down food and places to irritate one another, looks glorious. And then they return to this big old house and the citrus trees (hang on for the lesson…you can tell there’s love in the air when Brosnan starts explaining the orange-lemon divide).
Look, I’m telling you all this at arms’ length, because you should give it a go. The film is Danish, with the only full-blood English-speaker being Mr Brosnan, so, interesting; and the good humour of it all slips between the nationalities with a kiss and a wink. Will girl marry boy? Will grumpy widower fall for dazed and recently single-mummed mum? Will the sadness that hangs over Brosnan ever get beaten away by the sadness that hangs over Dyrholm?
Mostly, the answer to these questions is ‘ha, didn’t see that coming, did you?” or “yes”. Ultimately, this romcom is a nicely played, beautifully written, clever and wide-awake love story for the middle-aged and the mournful. The stars are lovely, indeed the whole cast gifts the thing a grace that charms the viewer and wrenches hope out of the sapping dregs of lost dreams.
And it ends where you need it to.