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It's All About Love Reviews

Danish director Thomas Vinterberg's follow-up to THE CELEBRATION, the first film made according to the austere, no-frills dictates of the Dogme95 manifesto, couldn't be any more different from its predecessor. Short of a STAR WARS prequel, this sleek and highly artificial romantic thriller strays as far from the Dogme "vows of chastity" as a film possibly could. It's summer 2021, and strange cosmic phenomena have been reported around the globe. Precipitously declining temperatures that have triggered a serious famine in Africa herald a coming Ice Age, while sudden, site-specific gravitational failures ensure that Ugandans who haven't tied themselves to the ground are ascending to the heavens in alarming numbers. A strange heart ailment, meanwhile, is killing New Yorkers, and when noted Polish literature professor John (Joaquin Phoenix) arrives for what he hopes will be a brief stay, he's forced to step over a dead body in the airport. The corpses of children are stuffed into street-corner trash bins. John has come to New York to finalize his divorce from his beautiful Polish wife, Elena (Claire Danes), a world-famous figure-skater whose skyrocketing career effectively ended their marriage. But John's greeted at the airport not by Elena herself, but by representatives of Ice International, the corporation devoted solely to exploiting her lucrative talent; they whisk John away to the deluxe Manhattan hotel suite where Elena is resting before that night's big premiere. John finds her surrounded by assistants, handlers, her brother (Douglas Henshall) and her manager (Alun Armstrong); Elena seems weak and even a little scared, and John's suspicion that something's not quite right takes a turn for the surreal when he glimpses what appears to be Elena's doppelganger skulking around a darkened hotel corridor. The truth turns out to be a plot beyond his wildest imagining. There's an undeniable poetry to Vinterberg's bizarre vision — the film is gorgeously shot by Anthony Dod Mantle (DOGVILLE, 28 DAYS LATER) — but if it weren't for the explanatory title, you'd never know what any of this craziness is meant to be about. Thicken the plot with a heavily-accented Sean Penn as John's brother, a man who, after an overdose of anti-fear-of-flying serum, is now condemned to travel the globe like an airborne Flying Dutchman while reporting on the state of love below, and you've got a stew of silliness that's so ridiculous it's almost entertaining. Almost.