First of all, although
the title might make you start thinking about Italy, this film is Danish
with subtitles. Second of all, you might want to bring along some
this is definitely a Dogma
film. If you saw Dancer
in the Dark or even The
Blair Witch Project (not actually a Dogma
film), you'll know what I mean. A Dogma
film means that there's no special effects and that the camerawork seems
to have been done during an earthquake. Italian For Beginners
is not so bad but there are a lot of extreme closeups and fast pans.
It is an enjoyable Film nevertheless.
This film follows the lives of several people in a small town in Denmark. They have little in common except that they are all taking a beginner's class in Italian and that they are all looking for love. The two things may be related! The characters consist of two sisters who only learn of each other's existence when their mother dies, a recently widowed minister, a restaurant manager who abuses his customers, his kindly best friend, and a waitress who actually is Italian. The two sisters, one a sexy hairdresser, the other a clumsy baker, fall in love with the abusive waiter and the minister. The kindly friend and the Italian waitress pine for each other. For most of the film, it looks like no one will actually get together. The characters are all a bit clueless but the story is very sweet. Italian For Beginners is suffused with the slightly depressed atmosphere that we expect from a Scandinavian film. And also, we there is a nice ambivalence about religion as personified by the minister and his new parish. He is replacing an old minister who has gone slightly mad.
There are a lot of cute scenes. Eventually, the class picks up and heads down to Venice to try out their Italian. Of course, the magic that is Venice works wonders and all the lovelorn members of the class begin to link up with their heart's desires. The cast is very good. The minister, in particular, does a good job of portraying a man of God as being very human. The film gets a bit draggy in the middle although it might have been the seasickness wearing me down. But once they get to Venice, it picks up again. This is the first Dogma film directed by a woman (Lone Scherfig) and the first that is a romantic comedy. I'm a little late with this review and Italian For Beginner's may be on its way out of theatres but it'll make a good weekend rental.