John (Phoenix) is due to stop off in New York for two hours so his wife, a superstar ice-skater, can sign their divorce papers. But when she fails to show, he begins to discover that his life is not at all straightforward, and that the world is dying through lack of love.
It is the sign of a truly great filmmaker when he can go from one end of the cinematic spectrum to the other, following a distinctive film with one which is its very opposite. David Lynch achieved this with Lost Highway and The Straight Story, and Takeshi Kitano with Hana-Bi and Kikujiro. Now Thomas Vinterberg has tried to join - or should that be gate-crash? - this elite group.
With It's All About Love he thoroughly rejects the Dogme aesthetic of dark, bare minimalism he used to such effect in Festen, and replaces it with extravagance in terms of look, narrative style, themes and cast. Here everything is about surface appearance, while there seems to be precious little beneath.
Like Wim Wenders' 1991 feature Until The End Of The World, this is a near-future, sci-fi love story which is ultimately too ambitious and plain weird for its own good, and too often comes off just looking ridiculous. Things are not helped by Claire Danes, Joaquin Phoenix and Sean Penn doing woeful Polish accents, and almost every American role being played by Brits who are hardly more convincing.
It's All About Love's audacious style and unlikely plot elements are just too far-out and bizarre to work, though maybe in 20 years the movie will be seen as a visionary masterpiece. Maybe.