Lone Scherfig, the first woman to helm a Dogme film (anonymously, of course), has produced the manifesto’s most auspicious product to date. The film’s titular beginners are not only new to Italian but apparently to life itself. Though they struggle to learn the romantic language they also must negotiate love and death. What with all their parents dying left and right you might expect another morbid Celebration. Fear not, Italian for Beginners is a charming view of language as a way to another’s heart. First, abandon all logic. It’s never really clear why the film’s close circle of acquaintances is simultaneously drawn to taking lessons in Italian. Only the impotent Jorgen (Peter Gantzler) seems to have a particularly good excuse: he’s trying to woo a local Italian waitress, Guila (Sara Indrio Jensen). Hal-Finn (Lars Kaalund) is the film’s brash center, teaching Italian as if he were on a soccer field. The recently widowed Andreas (Anders W. Berthelsen) is the town’s new minister, consoling the clumsy Olympia (Anette Stovelbaek) and hairdresser Karen (Ann Eleonora Jorgensen) when the two women discover they’re sisters. Just as all the parental deaths and references to God begin to wear thin, a series of scenes contemplate the frequently absurd fashion in which words can help to soothe human suffering. Though the film’s characters seem incapable of keeping anything straight when dealt a loss, they nonetheless give themselves to a verbose kind of redemption, where words become necessary calls to action. However studied Scherfig’s dissection of language may be, Italian for Beginners is still the warmest and most delicate of crowd pleasers.
- Miramax Films
- 112 min
- Lone Scherfig
- Lone Scherfig
- Anders W. Berthelsen, Ann Eleonora Jorgensen, Anette Stovelbaek, Peter Gantzler, Lars Kaalund, Sara Indrio Jensen, Elsebeth Steentoft, Rikke Wolck, Karen-Lise Mynster, Bent Mejding, Lene Tiemroth, Jesper Christensen, Claus Gerving, Carlo Barsotti, Alex Nyborg Madsen, Steen Svare
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