The Danish director reveals her thoughts on how her films are perceived throughout the world.
Birgit Heidsiek

31 Oct 2012 - 8:01 AM  UPDATED 31 Oct 2012 - 8:01 AM

The Academy Award-winning Danish director Susanne Bier has gained a reputation for dramas such as Brothers, After the Wedding and In A Better World. In her new movie Love Is All You Need, she sends a cancer-suffering hairdresser on a turbulent, tragicomic trip to Italy. Love Is All You Need was presented as a world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and is being released in more than 20 countries.

Cineuropa: How do you create your authentic women characters?
Susanne Bier: The main female character was slightly built as a character on my mother. When Anders Thomas Jensen (scriptwriter) and me started talking if we should do a movie about cancer, we decided quite quickly we should do a romantic comedy because we didn't want to do a heavy-handed drama. We wanted to infuse the whole notion with some kind of hope. It was very obvious for me to look at my mother. She had breast cancer twice. She has always been this very positive, very optimistic person. Evenwhen she was feeling really bad she was talking about how nice the nurses are.

Your film is being sold as a romantic comedy. Do you agree with that?
The film has a lot of fun elements in it, but I wouldn't exactly call it a comedy. I have been wondering about it but I am not quite sure how I would sell it myself. According to the rules,a love story has to end badly and a romantic comedy ends well. So in that respect it is a romantic comedy. It is really hard to figure out what you do when you sell your film; if you do it right or wrong.

Do you accept any compromises as a film director?
I wouldn't do a cinematic compromise. But I would make other kind of compromises, for example with the titles. I much prefer the Danish title The Bald Hairdresser. I think that is a much more fun title. It comes directly to the whole issue of cancer and does it in a humorous way. But the reaction we got from all the distributors was that it would alienate the audience in their country. And there I feel I have to listen to what they say.

How do you deal with the dark humor of Anders Thomas Jensen?
Anders Thomas Jensen has a very black sense of humor, you can't make it more black. I really enjoy in it but I am probably also very romantic and tend to make his material more warm and emotional.

Is there a difference between the way how your films are perceived in Denmark and in the rest of the world?
Yes, in Denmark I am mainstream and in the rest of the world I seem to be arthouse. It is kind of funny. With In A Better World, I won a Golden Globe and I won European Best director and the Oscar but I wasn't even nominated for the Danish equivalent. There is a certain snobbishness, which is a little bit European. Things have to be a bit incomprehensible and really weird, then they are masterpieces. But I have a huge audience in Denmark. I actually believe that being able to tell a good substantial story which means something and having a big audience is what movies are for.

Why did you choose Pierce Brosnan for the male lead?
When the movie starts, the female character has lost everything. She has been ill, she has finsished treatment, she is terrified. The disease hasn't gone away. She has got no hair and only one breast. Her husband is having an affair with a beautiful blond at her daughter's age. You see this woman at this disastrous moment of her life. With whom do you think does she wants to end up? The man of her dreams would be like James Bond as a human being who has the charming surface but is actually a passionate, intense man.

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