An unforgettable romantic comedy that's earned overwhelming acclaim, ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS is a warm and playful story about seven perfect strangers and the shared journey of discovery that changes each of their lives! In ... more »a small, rainy suburb, a mismatched collection of opposites have signed up for an Italian class in hopes of spicing up their lives! Then, as they realize the class offers them more than just language lessons, they join together on a quest to Italy with the renewed desire to pursue the romances of their lives! Once there, these world-weary students who thought there was nothing left to learn from life will get an education that will change everything they know about love!« less
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 02/04/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Danish Dogma95 filmmaking movement requires that it's practicioners utilize natural lighting and sound and hand-held cameras. Dogma95 is a response to what they feel is the arcane manner in which movies have been made up to this point and a direct reaction especially to what is termed a "Hollywood Film."
It is hard to argue with this point of view and technique as Dogma95 has been behind such films as "The Celebration," "Together," "Breaking the Waves" and the provocative and wonderful, "Dancer in the Dark."
Lone Sherfig is the first woman to direct a Dogma95 production with her "Italian for Beginners." It is also the first time Dogma95 techniques have been used with comedic material even though there are deadly serious portions of IFB.
"Italian for Beginners" is the story of several 30 somethings...all looking for what they feel is unattainable: Love, Respect, Validation. They all come together once a week for Italian lessons, hence the title. There are three men: Andreas, Jorgen and Hal-Finn and three women: Karen, Olympia and Guilia and by the end of the movie they've all paired-up. This process is done in as light hearted a manner as possible, though each has a sadness in their past or present that must be dealt with before the movie can inevitably achieve it's happy ending.
Scherfig applies a very serious approach to this material; along with the in-your-face camera and microphone work that heightens rather than flattens-out the words spoken and the performances given, which elevates IFB from a piece of fluff it could have been (think "Bread and Tulips") to the serious though very funny film it turns out to be.
The magic of Dogma95 is that, by way of their techniques, which are not new and many have been borrowed from documentary film , is that all artifice is removed. The actors are in a perilous position with the camera right on top of them, catching every glint and flicker of their eyes; the better to see the truth in their hearts and souls, and if they are faking it...we will know."
Touching and funny
Charlotte Vale-Allen | CT USA | 01/07/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's initially somewhat disconcerting to watch this movie, shot as a video rather than in traditional film format. But the script and the performances are so affecting and so honest that it quickly becomes entirely engrossing. A motley-seeming collection of average people: a raging restaurant keeper with a hidden talent for language, an accommodating hairdresser with a nightmare of a mother who just happens to be terminally ill, a klutzy, good-natured young bakery worker with a horrible father, a disaffected management type and a charming Italian waitress. They all find themselves at an evening class in Italian and they manage to make connections--with themselves and with the others in the class--in humorous and bittersweet ways.This is a very worthwhile film. Don't be put off by the oddness of the video. You'll forget about it soon enough and become entirely caught up in this wonderfully well-acted, truly touching and amusing film.
Excellent Example of a Dogma Film
Mark Mussari | Old Pueblo | 10/26/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Beware the myopic reviews by certain others here: they do not get the Dogma film movement and, more importantly, they do not get this film. With its emphasis on the acting--and not special effects, smarmy scores, or other cinematic sleight of hand--the Dogma film compels us to focus on _character._ «Italian for Beginners» does just that, focusing our attention on some lonely Danish singles who find not only refuge but togetherness in their attraction to all things Italian. The great accomplishment of the film's director, Lone Scherfig, is her ability to transfer very specifically Danish cultural aspects to a broader audience. Along the way you get both hilarious and touchingly sad moments and fine acting, all around. Merely to watch the talented Anders Berthelsen's facial expressions or Peter Gantzler's timing is worth the entire price of admission. An excellent film from Denmark."
Misleading marketing, excellent movie
Andy Orrock | Dallas, TX | 07/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As usual, ingore the wildly off-base U.S. Marketing campaign. The coverbox here - sexy female legs in an exotically supine position - is both misleading and insulting. This movie spends 92%+ of its time in a provincial Danish town. The subjects are death, loneliness, and breaking out of that loneliness via tentatively made connections. It's a brilliantly done movie by Dogme 95 adherent Lone Scherfig. Consider it 'von Trier light,' but that cover box is bound to set up some for disappointment.
The Dogme style gives you a freshness you don't see in many Hollywood movies. In fact, 'Italian for Beginners' could almost pass for a home video (albeit one recorded by your Danish relatives).
For you Dogme fans:
- Pastor 'Andreas' is Anders Berthelsen, who played lead Kresten so memorably in 'Mifune.'
- Stadium restaurant manager Halfinn is 'Mifune' star Iben Hjejle's live-in partner.
- Ann Eleonora Jorgensen as Karen is - other than this movie - unknown to American audiences. A shame. Somebody hire this lady."
Mark Twain | 06/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Italian For Beginners is a fantastic film, I don't see why people seem to have a problem with it. It's a movie for people who like movies and aren't bothered by things as ridiculous as the fact that it is shot with a video camera instead of on film. The script is engrossing, the characters are charming, and the locations beautiful. Don't listen to the negative comments and give this delightful little film a chance. It certainly deserves it."