Italian for Beginners
Man talk. Jorgen and Finn discuss their trouble with women
Dogme No 12: Italiensk for Begyndere

dir-scr Lone Scherfig
with Andres W Berthelsen, Anette Stovelbaek, Peter Gantzler, Anna Eleonora Jorgensen, Lars Kaalund, Elsebeth Steentoft, Rikke Walck, Karen-Lise Mynster, Jesper Christensen, Lene Tiemroth, Claus Gerving, Bent Mejding
release US 18.Jan.02; UK 26.Apr.02
01/Denmark 1h48

4 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E

speak the language of love The 12th film made under the Dogme 95 Vow of Chastity (and the 5th from Denmark, birth of the manifesto), this lively and deeply entertaining romantic comedy works far better than you could expect. Basically there are three love stories in the film, which follows a handful of people loosely connected through the Italian night classes they attend. Andreas (Berthelsen) is the new pastor of the local church, staying in a hotel until the parish decides whether or not to keep him. Jorgen (Gantzler) is manager of the hotel's front desk, in love with the cafe's feisty Italian waitress Giulia (Jensen), who likes him too--but both are afraid to speak about it. Her boss Finn (Kaalund) is astonishingly rude, strangely likeable, and speaks the best Italian in the group. While two women (Stovelbaek and Jorgensen) are struggling with ill parents who run their lives ... and discover a connection between them.

As these characters study Italian together, the Latin rhythms of love invade their lives. Well, that's the idea, although the film never quite convinces us on this point. But everywhere else it's absolutely wonderful: The Dogme camera work keeps things earthy and edgy, while the ensemble cast creates characters who are complex human beings. Everyone is teetering on the brink of despair, grabbing at little hints of joy wherever they can find them. And writer-director Scherfig captures the black comedy of real life wonderfully, keeping us laughing, putting a lump in our throats and skilfully developing the interrelationships as these lonely people find ways to connect on a deeper level. Funny, sweet and fairly wonderful.
adult themes and situations, language cert 15 18.Apr.02

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2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall