Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Cast interviews; Director's commentary;
DANISH director, Thomas Vinterberg, is credited with being one
of the co-founders of the Dogme 95 school of film-making, which
placed minimalism above everything else, in terms of making movies.
Hence, his most famous work, Festen (The Celebration), was shot
on hand-held cameras, entirely on location, using action that
took place in the here and now, while Dogme 95 was
mischievously described as being a rescue operation to counter
certain tendencies in film today.
It will come as some surprise to fans of the director, however,
to find that his latest work, the captivating but surreal, Its
All About Love, marks a major change of style, boasting a top-drawer
cast and a sweeping, epic feel that seems to fly in the face of
the Dogme philosophy.
Not that this is a bad thing, of course, for the film still bears
many of the hallmarks of a European art-house production, as well
as an interesting, if bizarre, what if scenario to
some of the problems which beset modern life.
Set in the near-future, the film picks up as John (Joaquin Phoenix)
arrives in New York to complete his divorce with his figure-skater
wife, Elena (Claire Danes).
But it quickly becomes apparent that nothing is as it seems,
as people keep dropping dead all over the city (due to an apparent
lack of love), and Elena seems determined to keep him at the hotel
she is staying, in search of a second chance.
As John finds himself becoming hopelessly drawn to his wife once
more, however, he uncovers a corporate conspiracy surrounding
her family, which places Elenas life in danger, and subsequently
kidnaps her in a bid to flee the city.
But their flight is made difficult by the environmental changes
affecting the world, which place gravity under threat, in Africa,
and which could herald the start of a new Ice Age sooner than
Hovering over all this, quite literally, is Johns brother,
Marciello (played by Sean Penn), a man with a fear of flying,
whose subsequent treatment means he can only live
in aeroplanes, and who provides a sort of advice-cum-commentary
to his siblings plight.
When it played as part of last years London Film Festival,
Its All About Love divided audiences into those who considered
it pretentious rubbish, and those who were utterly beguiled by
what it had to offer.
Certainly, Vinterberg has created a haunting and intimate movie,
which operates as much as an intriguing think-piece, as well as
a slight commentary on the emotional state of the world today.
His cinematography is both utterly addictive and beautifully
realised, while the thriller aspects of the plot, concerning the
conspiracy surrounding Elena, should have audiences sufficiently
glued, even if the downbeat finale may leave them feeling cold.
New York, which has seldom looked better, appears to operate
as some sort of surreal wonderland, in which it snows at the height
of Summer, and dead bodies litter the pavements, parks and airports,
while the film is vaguely reminiscent of the classic thrillers
of the 1950s, as it builds towards its revelatory finale.
The quirkiness which permeates, throughout, is summed up by Penns
bizarre scenes as Johns brother, whose presence doesnt
always seem necessary, but who provides a compelling presence
Both Phoenix and Danes are also typically strong, serving to
make Its All About Love a bold and imaginative experience,
which is sure to remain with viewers for a long time after it
has finished, no matter what they ultimately take away from it.