A sincere science fiction film, It's All About Love attempts to explore the state of the world and the answer that lies in love. Set in 2021, it imagines a future not far from our present, where John (Joaquin Phoenix) must help his estranged wife Elena (Claire Danes) escape the money-men dependent on her career as an ice dancer. Sadly, the movie's moral soon overwhelms the story, turning an initially intriguing thriller into a ponderous parable where the message is all too obvious and the medium is all too dull.
Director Thomas Vinterberg (who co-created the back-to-basics filmmaking manifesto Dogme with Dogville creator Lars von Trier) wrote and directed the brilliant Festen, about the dark secret and twisted relationships revealed at a family gathering. He clearly has both talent and ambition, and believes cinema has the power to project ideas as well as entertain.
"FINE PERFORMANCE FROM DANES"
For that, his second film is admirable. It also features a fine performance from Danes, who conveys anguish and uncertainty well, and particularly impresses when the film's laboured mystery is finally unveiled. She certainly has the best scene - a bloody, balletic set-piece which threatens to deliver on the picture's early promise.
But you're likely to have lost interest long before this point. The set-up is painfully slow, with none of the qualities of the Hitchcock thrillers Vinterberg's so obviously influenced by: neither the pace and wit of North By Northwest, nor the aura of obsession of Vertigo.
Only Douglas Henshall elicits any real sympathy, as Elena's desperate brother. And as John's sibling, Sean Penn gives an eccentric cameo, seen solely on planes, philosophising on a phone. He's a cypher, serving to express the filmmakers' thoughts, explaining why people are dying in the streets.
The role epitomises this disappointingly soulless movie: heart in the right place, head in the clouds.