All Inclusive tells the story of Lise (Bodil Jørgensen) and her two adult daughters, Ditte (Danica Curcic) and Sigrid (Maria Rossing), who decide to go on a vacation to Malta after Lise finds out her husband cheated on her. It is a refreshing feel-good film that is on-trend in its celebration of female sexuality.
In terms of the sisters’ relationship, All Inclusive is like a Danish version of In Her Shoes (2005). Ditte and Sigrid are complete opposites and their tension is palpable from the film’s start. Ditte is a dishevelled mess. She almost misses the flight because she’s late to wake up from a one-night stand, she forgets her mother’s birthday and the names of Sigrid’s children. “You checked out of this family a long time ago.” Sigrid tells her. They enjoy spending time with Ditte, but they have learned not to rely on her. Ditte is fun though, which is exactly what Sigrid is not. Where Ditte’s hair is wild and unbrushed, Sigrid’s hair is dead straight and pulled tight across her skull. Sigrid has her life under control, and so when Lise’s life falls apart Sigrid takes it upon herself to rescue her, leaving Ditte to hover on the peripheries like an annoying child who is too scatterbrained to be included in the adult world.
Ditte wants to help Lise feel attractive again, so she pays the bartender, Antonio (Diogo Infante) to flirt with her for the night. The rest of the film is about how Antonio and Lise have fun dating. Sigrid watches on, at first sceptically, then enviously. Ditte frets about Antonio breaking her mother’s heart and befriends a small child, Oliver (William Thiel Stensgaard). Sigrid and Ditte become friends again.
All Inclusive was an enjoyable, well-paced film. The plot was predictable, and strongly adherent to tropes of the romantic comedy genre. The casting is well done but none of the characters are particularly nuanced or complex. There is a subplot about Oliver and his father, who is grieving over his ex-wife, but ultimately it goes nowhere.
The most original aspect of the film is its take on female sexuality. Celebrations of female sexuality are very much in vogue at the moment: earlier this year we had the release of Fifty Shades of Grey and Magic Mike XXL, and in August we will see Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck. All Inclusive is more restrained and less vulgar than any of these films, and it is unique in that the protagonist, Lise, is over the age of 60. Sexuality of the aging woman is a topic that is still so rarely explored, and All Inclusive’s portrayal manages to be both fun and tasteful.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the film’s conclusion, which manages to be happily-ever-after to satisfy mainstream audiences, while allowing Lise to retain her characterisation as a modern, sophisticated lady. Like Ditte, I feared that Lise would fall prey to Antonio’s charms. I wanted to protect her, lest he break her precious heart. For me, the main strength of All Inclusive is that it turns this assumption on its head, allowing me to reflect on the paternalistic assumptions that underpin it. Romance between two people does not have to be about true love for the woman and no-strings-attached sex for the man. It is sexist to assume, as I did, that Lise was only spending time with Antonio to trial him as a potential second husband, and that Antonio was only spending time with Lise to satisfy some sort of cougar fetish. Lise and Antonio enjoy great sex and tender feelings. In effect, All Inclusive teaches us the inaccuracies of examining heterosexual relationships as that stock power dynamic where the passive, emotional woman needs to be protected from the horny, heartless man.