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Article updated: 5/9/2013 10:22 AM

Strong characters at heart of 'Love'

By Dann Gire

Reel Life mini-review: "Love is All You Need"
Very few movies can tell us the secret to happiness, but that's exactly what Susanne Bier's not-so gentle romantic comedy "Love is All You Need" does. The main characters in this Danish/English cinematic souffle are distraught, unhappy or unfulfilled until that inspiring moment they decide what they want out of life and go after it.

That's the secret to happiness, BTW.

Erstwhile 007 Pierce Brosnan ages like fine wine, becoming a more interesting and complex actor with time. In "Love," he brings heavy sorrow to Philip, a brusque, insensitive Demark businessman and widower suffering from loss.

Luminous Danish actress Trine Dryholm plays Ida, a hairdresser married to an adulterous jerk. She's also a breast cancer survivor whose daughter Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind) is about to marry an English lad Patrick (Sebastian Jessen) at a destination wedding in Italy.

Philip and Ida meet cute when their cars collide in a parking lot. Oh, no! Turns out their kids are the ones getting married!

Frankly, I am weary of rom-com weddings involving upscale families who can afford everything except some new clichés. (Clearly, Ida's hubby is a mismatch, as is Philip's sister-in-law Paprika Steen putting the moves on him at the wedding.)

Despite the over-use of Dean Martin's classic "That's Amore" (a tune tightly identified with Cher's timeless romance "Moonstruck"), Bier directs "Love" with loving attention to each character, trapped by indecision and confusion. Bier finds a fresh approach to the worn-out wedding rom-com premise, aided by a sterling cast that pumps blood and tears into three-dimensional characters.

"Love is All You Need" opens at the Century Centre in Chicago, the Evanston CineArts 6 and the Northbrook Court 18. Rated R for language, sexual situations. 110 minutes. ★ ★ ★

Reel Life mini-review: "King's Faith"
As far as overtly Christian faith-based dramas go, Nicholas DiBella's "King's Faith" makes some bold strides in depicting realistic scenarios laced with tension and fairly graphic street violence.

Still, it religiously follows genre conventions with humorless characters, speechy dialogue and frequent interruptions by cloying songs packing lyrics that comment directly on the action.

Teenage Brendan (Crawford Wilson) has already been in 18 foster homes after being sent off to juvey for running drugs and other things.

His 19th foster home belongs to Mike and Vanessa (James McDaniel and the still-smoldering Lynn Whitfield), a couple on the mend from losing their son, a cop recently killed in the line of duty.

Brendan tries to fit in, be respectful and go along to get along, which means Wilson is stuck with the blandest character in the movie, given he doesn't have much to work with beyond replaying a "Quiet Man" knock-off with Groucho Marxian eyebrows.

Conflict emerges when Brendan's past becomes the present. His old ringleader Eli (Brandon Correa, in a wisely restrained performance) returns with his gang, hunting for a cocaine stash buried someplace Brendan might know.

Christopher Hart's sharp cinematography gives "King's Faith" an impressive look, accompanied by an often downer score striving for a sense of hefty seriousness.

"King's Faith" opens at the South Barrington 30. Rated PG-13 for violence, language, drugs. 108 minutes. ★ ★

Reel Life film notes:
• As of press time, Paramount Pictures will not screen "Star Trek Into Darkness" to Chicago critics before its May 15 opening Wednesday. Local critics will see J.J. Abrams' sequel to his "Star Trek" reboot at a 9 p.m. showing on that stardate, after it already opens to the public.

This marks only the second time that a "Star Trek" movie has avoided advance local critics' scrutiny since "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" opened in 1979.

Then, the late Chicago Tribune film critic Gene Siskel thwarted the studio's attempt to hide the movie by flying to an exclusive advance screening in Washington, D.C. He filed his review from there, criticizing the movie as mediocre and awarding it a rating of . .½.

• The MPPA's Classification and Rating Administration has out-dumbed itself again. It awarded Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" a PG-13 rating for, among other things, "partying." Seriously?

Having a party in a movie automatically qualifies it as inappropriate for preteen audiences? This is even more moronic than slapping a rating on a movie for possession of those indefinable "thematic elements."

CARA's prime directive has always been to help American parents wisely guide their children's viewing habits. Some of these ratings are so ridiculous, they would have made excellent fodder for a Monty Python segment back in the day.

• Join me and film historian Raymond Benson as Dann & Raymond's Movie Club presents "Heeeeeere's Jack! The Films of Jack Nicholson" 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, at the Palatine Library, 700 N. Court St., Palatine. Clips from "The Little Shop of Horrors," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "A Few Good Men," "As Good As It Gets," plus 12 other films. Free admission. Go to palatinelibrary.org for details.

• Dear Dann: What I find fascinating is the fact that Tony Stark (in "Iron Man 3") can create an advanced personal tech lab out of anything, anywhere -- as in the workshop where the young boy lives -- with all the latest electronics. Even in the middle of Nowheresville he can pound metal to somehow repair the intricate circuitry in his suits. Now that's some heavy mettle! Apple, Google, Motorola or Samsung could use this guy. -- Rick Dana Barlow

Dear Rick: So could local cable TV companies. -- Dann

• Daily Herald Film Critic Dann Gire's column runs Fridays in Time out!

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