So what did you do after Dogme, Daddy? While Lars Von Trier has kept the faith - (kind of) - with the grimly austere Dogville, Festen helmer Thomas Vinterberg has resolutely turned his back on the Dogme 95 manifesto. It's All About Love creates a lush romantic fantasy that revels in exactly the kind of cinematic artifice his fellow Danes sought to eradicate. The result may be baffling, pretentious and mawkish, but it's still a vivid, imaginative work that will captivate and infuriate audiences in equal measure.
""I want to tell you a story about the last seven days of my life"," says Joaquin Phoenix's Polish hero John in an opening voiceover that sets the tone for the dreamlike saga that follows. The year is 2012 and the world is being rocked by a series of apocalyptic disasters: sudden freezes, gravity loss in Africa and an unexplained heart ailment that leaves the sidewalks of Manhattan littered with cadavers.
What's causing these mysterious occurrences? According to John's brother Marciello (Sean Penn), ""it's all about love"" - - or rather the absence of love, for the environment, our bodies and each other. Penn's philosophical character has a unique perspective on life: having taken a serum to cure his fear of flying, he can now only survive in the air. John, though, has troubles of his own: namely the Elena-clones her manager (Alun Armstrong) has made so they can carry on ice-skating when she retires...
Obviously none of this makes a bit of sense - - one clone, maybe, but three? And why is ice-skating so popular all of a sudden? But then logic is the last thing on Vinterberg's mind (if it had been, he probably wouldn't have asked Danes to play four versions of Elena when she's clearly incapable of one.) The challenge is simple: accept this "fairytale of life" on its own surreal terms, or get the hell out.
Stunningly shot by Anthony Dod Mantle and boasting a sublime score from Zbigniew Preisner, this will be a treat for some and an endurance test for others. One thing's for sure: you really won't have seen anything like it.
It's all about - what? Your guess is as good as ours. But surrender to its oddness and this poetic epic will be hard to forget.