Itís All About Love
3Ĺ out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
It's All About Love Not an easy film to describe, this English-language thriller by Danish filmmaker Vinterberg (Festen) is both involving and deeply bizarre, definitely for fans of films off the beaten path. John (Phoenix) thinks he's going to have only 20 minutes on a stopover in New York City. While there, he wants his wife Elena (Danes) to finally sign their divorce papers, but Elena has other plans, and her minder (Strong) drags him out of the airport to a "family" gathering of her manager (Armstrong), assistant (Martindale), brother (Henshall) and various hangers on. She's obviously stalling for some reason, and as John's stay lengthens to two days, then four, then a week, he discovers that a conspiracy is afoot. Elena is a world-class ice skater who wants to retire ... but the "family" has other plans.

First of all, this is all set in the near future (2021), when a strange heart illness has gripped New York, leaving bodies lying in doorways, roadsides and so on. And there's an eerie multicultural feel to this world in which national boundaries seem to have slipped a bit. The cast is excellent, playing the characters with a heightened authenticity reminiscent of classic 1950s thrillers. And Vinterburg adds menace with cinematography, editing and direction that all hint at much more than we or the characters know. It has a crisp, steely look--full of murkiness and mystery, sudden shadows on faces and soaring airborne photography (John's brother, played by Penn, lives on airplanes). So far so good, but the film is also filled with extremely odd quirks, such as news reports of flying Ugandans and freakish weather patterns that hint a new ice age is about to begin ... perhaps before the final credits role! A gonzo plot twist and a surreal ice ballet are Vinterberg's next surprises, followed by a grand finale that's both maddeningly elusive and deeply emotional. Sure there's a nice parallel in the way the world's chaos is reflected in people's hearts. And yes, it's all about love. So why did the lack of a coherent resolution bother me so much?

cert 15 themes, language, violence 28.Oct.03 lff

dir Thomas Vinterberg
scr Mogens Rukov, Thomas Vinterberg
with Joaquin Phoenix, Claire Danes, Douglas Henshall, Sean Penn, Alun Armstrong, Mark Strong, Margo Martindale, Geoffrey Hutchings, Sean-Michael Smith, Harry Ditson, Wieslaw Figazc, Frankie Boakye
release Denmark 10.Jan.03; UK 13.Feb.04; US 29.Oct.04
FilmFour
03/UK 1h44

On the run: Phoenix and Danes.

phoenix danes henshall
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R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... It's All About Love Amy, Pennsylvania: 4/5 "I am still not sure if I liked this movie or not. I have watched it twice because the first time I missed a lot of things. The second time around it was much better and a little clearer. I am a huge Joaquin Phoenix fan and that is basically the main reason why I bought this movie. But I would have to say that it was worth the $12.00 and I will definitely watch it again!" (14.Jun.04)

Jim, Florida: 2.5/5 "More than anything else, this movie will be remembered for its unrealized ideas and wasted potential. Unfortunately Vinterberg tantalizes us with possibilities that never come to fruition, and since he obviously didn't focus on the story you'd naturally think he must have put his energy in to the performances of the actors. Of course you'd be wrong. Rare is the director that can waste the talents of Phoenix, Danes and Sean Penn all at the same time. This is a movie that does alot of things wrong and only a handful of things right, but that handful will leave you dwelling on what could have been for some time to come." (15.Sep.05)

© 2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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