Pierce Brosnan starring in a European-funded art house film from a Danish writer-director is not something that you come across very often. The former 007 plays Philip in this offering, an English widower living in Denmark who has made a small fortune growing, buying and selling fruit and vegetables across Europe.
Trine Dyrholm is Ida, a beautiful hairdresser who is undergoing chemotherapy. Phillips’s son Patrick (Jessen), and Ida’s daughter Astrid (Egelind) are getting married in Sorrento, Italy, after a courtship of just three months, and their parents are flying in for a sumptuous no-expenses-spared wedding in the sun – courtesy of Philip’s credit card.
However, despite the picture-postcard destination, all is not well. Philip has been a widower for 23 years and has turned into a hard man while Ida is undergoing major marriage difficulties as she attempts to pull her life back together and focus on the future towards the end of her chemotherapy.
Meanwhile, their children are both experiencing doubts about their marriage, having dragged their entire families and friends across Europe to witness their nuptials. The supporting cast in the melodrama set just outside Naples includes a lustful sister-in-law and her spoilt daughter; a gay Italian local; Astrid’s younger brother, who is a soldier; and Ida’s selfish, childish husband.
The film’s central thought is the contrast between happiness and despair and the balancing act that people struggle with between those two contrasting emotions. All the characters portray public personas of light, while secretly hiding darker depths that contain demons they are struggling to wrestle into submission. This mélange of emotions is all played out in a sun-kissed city, through plenty of dialogue and a slow-paced script.
This certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste; and if the idea of complicated relationships played out through long, wordy scenes does not appeal, then this film is one to avoid. But there are plenty who will enjoy this bittersweet examination of life and love.
Although well made and well acted, there are moments when the dialogue and story fail to reel in the viewer sufficiently to make this a truly memorable effort; instead it’s a strange mixture of bitter and sweet.
Perhaps the sweetest point of the film is it’s decidedly unpredictable and cliché-free nature.