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TIFF: Interview with Susanne Bier - Director of Love Is All You Need

Women and Hollywood By Melissa Silverstein | Women and Hollywood September 19, 2012 at 5:29PM

At the Toronto Film Festival you see a lot of heavy movies really early in the morning. Love is All You Need was a most welcome respite from the intensity that was around at the festival. Academy Award winning director Susanne Bier operating at the top of her game goes in a completely different direction with this lush (it takes place in Italy) and romantic piece that stars Pierce Brosnan and Trine Dyrholm as people from two different worlds who happen to be the parents of a couple about to get married in a villa in Italy. The movie is so beautifully shot that it made my pine for the blue skies of Italy. The story is way more complex than a typical romantic comedy but it is also very accessible and because of Pierce Brosnan (who thankfully does not sing) this film will play even wider in the English speaking world. This was one of the films I really liked at the festival.
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WaH: Did you do something to her eyes? Because I kept staring at her eyes which are like a deer in the headlights.

SB: She’s got huge eyes. Like a clown.

WaH: You've been writing with Anders Thomas Jensen for some time now.  Do you work together in the same way?

SB: Yeah, we do work in the same way. We’re very uncomplicated with our relationship. I don’t know, it’s a natural understanding and exchange of ideas. Like I will say something and he will say something else and we might argue about it but we fundamentally understand each other very well.

WaH: Talk about the – any challenges you found in making this film?

SB: The main challenge was getting the balance between comedy and sadness right. Because it’s such a fine balance. When we were editing whenever the weight slipped onto one side you kind of lost the momentum of the movie.  It’s a movie which is so unashamedly romantic. It really is a movie that kind of says “Yes, we do believe in love. We do. And we don’t do it with any kind of cynicism.” And I thought that was a bit scary. It's actually a little bit scary at this point in time to say yes, that’s what we believe.

WaH: I wrote a lot about the fact that the Cannes Film Festival had no women in competition this year and people kept asking which women should have been included and I knew your film was done and so I said your name.  

SB: But it wasn’t finished.

WaH: But even if it wasn't finished  your name should be in that conversation no matter what.

SB: Thank you, that’s very nice of you.

WaH: You’ve earned the right to be in those conversations. This is your first film since you won the Oscar and it is much lighter kind of film.  Talk about the post Oscar expectations..

SB: Here’s the thing.  You win an Oscar and the movie that comes after that is always going to be compared. So you can do a drama and it’s gonna be compared.  And for a long time I wanted to do something which was slightly lighter. So here we go.

WaH: Do you feel this is your most commercial film?

SB: Well it has certainly opened huge in Denmark.  The numbers are amazing. It might be, I don’t know. It’s not a conscious choice to make a commercial film. It’s a conscious choice to make a overtly romantic film and it’s a conscious choice to address the cancer issue. But if that’s gonna make a huge commercial film I’m just really honored and happy about that.

WaH: So I always ask people any advice you have for people who are trying to make a movie.

SB: Have courage, just get into it. And don’t think too much. Don’t make your life too complicated.

WaH: Are you going back to the tough stuff next time? For your next film?

SB: Yes.  [Bier just finished shooting Serena with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.]

WaH:  There are not a lot of women who have lengthy bodies of work and you have a substantive body of work and that's so impressive.

SB: That’s also probably why I’m less worried about it because you have to do things, otherwise it gets boring. You have to do different things.

This article is related to: Susanne Bier, Women Directors, Toronto Film Festival, Jennifer Lawrence