From acclaimed Danish director Susanne Bier and starring Pierce Brosnan and Trine Dyrholm, this is a very traditional tale about hardship and the redemption of finding rejuvenating love in the most unlikely of places. Brosnan’s son is marrying Dyrholm’s daughter in Italy, and the two of them meet when their cars collide accidentally in the Danish airport they are to depart from. One has an adulterous husband and lives with the threat of returning cancer (he cheated on her whilst she was undergoing chemotherapy no less), the other lost his wife many years ago in a tragic road accident and has allowed himself to be consumed by work ever since. Both central performances are extremely good, and indeed the pain in Brosnan’s eyes looks very real when he talks about the loss of his wife, so much so Red Dragon decided to do a little checking and sure enough, he sadly lost his first wife, actress Cassandra Harris, to cancer. Ever since he has been a vocal supporter of cancer charities (he is also an ardent environmentalist), including being the celebrity spokesman one year for the breast cancer fundraiser ‘Lee National Denim Day’, run by Lee Jeans and which reputedly raises more funds than any other annual one day event for the cause – you can find more details about it here. Interestingly, Cassandra Harris appeared in the Bond film ‘For Your Eyes Only’ (81) as Lisl, and visiting her onset Brosnan was introduced to Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli which, despite setbacks due to his ‘Remington Steele’ contract that allowed Timothy Dalton to take the reins for two films, eventually led to his casting as the fifth actor to play James Bond in the Eon series.
Despite the likeability of the central characters, it’s the supporting roles that drag this film into the realm of melodrama, and although it’s not insufferable, it does begin to fray the edges of its believability, with almost everyone else at the wedding having some sort of personal drama which will come to the fore, and which ultimately takes up too much screen time and detracts from the core of the film. The Mediterranean setting is picturesque, evoking Brosnan’s vocally challenged trip to Greece in ‘Mamma Mia’ (08), and there are a lot of beautiful landscape shots of the town they go to, indeed it would not have gone amiss to have cut them longer and extracted some of the soap opera to make room. Brosnan exists here as box office draw, but one cannot imagine this going down too well in Denmark as although his character is deemed to be fluent in Danish, the actor is most certainly not, and so the film constantly flits between English and subtitled Danish, purely to try and appeal to a wider market. A tactical ploy which appears to have been successful, with this screened more commercially than most of Bier’s previous work, although I wonder if something did not go awry with their marketing, as the only time I’ve seen a trailer play for this was a mere one day before it went on national release, and, equally, I wonder if a wider release would not have been secured anyway, given the success of her previous film ‘In a Better World’ (10), which took home the best foreign language film award from the Oscars (notably, against the wonderful ‘Dogtooth’).
A nice film worthy of a look in, even if the supporting story arcs hinder rather than help.