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Pierce Brosnan, Trine Dyrholm and Susanne Bier Realise that Love Is All You Need

Pierce Brosnan and Trine Dyrholm discover new beginnings in Love Is All You Need.

Academy Award-winning director Susanne Bier has fallen in love with her star — a man who needs no introduction — the steely-eyed, effortlessly genteel Pierce Brosnan. “I’m taking him to Denmark and he’s not going to be allowed to come back. He doesn’t know yet,” she mischievously suggests. But, sounding more earnest, she acknowledges that the iconic actor’s presence in her new film, a mostly Danish-language romantic comedy, was nothing less than formative for the story. Danish actress Trine Dyrholm, who plays Brosnan’s love interest, “has lost everything. She’s finished treatment for cancer and her husband is having an affair with a beautiful blonde her daughter’s age. Who do you want her to meet? You want her to meet James Bond,” Bier explains.

In Love Is All You Need, Brosnan plays an embittered widower opposite Dyrholm, who has long been tethered to an oafish husband. They become acquainted on the breathtaking coast of Sorrento, Italy, where their children have planned a destination wedding, and slowly begin to realise that the younger generation may not be the only one about to embark on a new phase of life. The romantic comedy genre was a departure for Bier and her two leads alike, all of whom are more experienced in dramatic fare. Dyrholm remarks, “I’ve never done… this kind of woman who is so positive,” and Brosnan adds, “It’s always a constant struggle to find the work that you want to do… but when a piece comes across your desk with the name Susanne Bier… it makes you sit up. It’s as plain as the nose on the end of your face, the good stuff. It has a rhythm, a texture.”

If you don’t know Bier’s name now, you soon will. She has already achieved the highest level of critical success, having won the Best Foreign Language Oscar in 2010 for her drama In a Better World. She has also dabbled in English language film, with 2007’s Things We Lost in the Fire. But this year, she’s poised for her true Hollywood breakout with Serena, starring Silver Linings Playbook dream team Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. The two will be reunited as a couple yet again, this time in Depression-era North Carolina, and their tried and true chemistry is sure to attract high expectations. Brosnan, for one, is confident in Bier’s ability to meet them. “She deals with issues of the heart and she goes to places which most directors don’t go to,” he says admiringly.

Brosnan needed a director he could trust in Love Is All You Need, given the deeply personal connections between his own life and his character’s. Brosnan is himself a widower, having lost his first wife to cancer in 1991. “I was acutely aware of the parallels of Pierce Brosnan’s life and Philip’s life, and that was part of the attraction, to be able to go there and to be able to use yourself in a piece that you felt secure in, and in the company of a director like Susanne,” he says.

From Bier’s perspective, she notes that many people see this film as being uncharacteristic of her style — but she disagrees. “It’s interesting because I think the big departure is in the way everyone else sees me. I have actually done romantic comedy a long time ago and I’ve always loved romantic comedies.” Though, she says, she tends to bring some sort of “melancholic side” to her projects. Dyrholm concurs, “It really is a Susanne Bier film, even though it’s so different from her other films.”

Rather than pretentiously avoiding romantic comedy clichés, Bier embraces them, viewing them as essential storytelling tools. “You can talk about clichés and you can talk about archetypes, and I’m not quite sure what the difference is,” she declares. Viewers will notice a vibrant colour palette and charmingly traditional, gender-demarcating wardrobe stylings. Bier remembers thinking, “It’s going to be unashamedly romantic, and therefore… we’re going to allow for the main character to never wear trousers… She’s going to wear high heels. She’s going to wear a dress. And that’s how it’s going to be.”

The location, too, felt over-the-top in a way that Bier was excited to indulge in. Of Sorrento, Dyrholm says, “It is almost too beautiful.” And of the picturesque, empty mansion where most of the film is set, Bier marvels, “We miraculously found this amazing location, which we had almost given up on finding. Along that coast, all the houses are so expensive and redecorated. And suddenly there was this lemon grove and deserted house… And then having Pierce surrounded by all the beautiful blond actresses was also pretty magical.”

Oscar bait it may not be, but Love Is All You Need manages something possibly even more difficult — a balance between emotional honesty and intrepid optimism, a tragically rare combination for the genre. Asked if she would like to pursue more romantic comedies, Bier says she would be thrilled to, qualifying it by adding, “I don’t think I’d be particularly suited to do two 19-year-olds who were really cool and sexy, lots of sexy friends, great cars.” But given another worthwhile story, she would not resist the temptation to join the light side once again. “It’s very satisfying making a movie that makes people happy,” she concludes, appearing quite satisfied indeed.

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