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Italiensk for Begyndere (Italian for Beginners) (2001)

Italiensk for Begyndere (Italian for Beginners)


Average Rating: 7.2/10
Reviews Counted: 84
Fresh: 74
Rotten: 10

Critics Consensus: Unlike many romantic comedies, the charming Italian for Beginners feels natural and genuinely heart-warming.

Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 27
Fresh: 24
Rotten: 3

Critics Consensus: Unlike many romantic comedies, the charming Italian for Beginners feels natural and genuinely heart-warming.


Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 5,985


Movie Info

The Dogma 95 movement has seen some searing looks into the human condition but rarely a romantic comedy -- until now. Veteran Danish filmmaker Lone Scherfig spins this deadpan look at a group of lovelorn outsiders living in a grey corner of Copenhagen. After the perennially foul-tempered minister of a local church is fired after doing great injury to the organist, Andreas moves to the area to take over the parish. Staying in a hotel until his predecessor can be wrested from the rectory, Andreas … More

R (for language and some sexuality)
Drama , Romance , Art House & International , Comedy
Directed By:
Written By:
Lone Scherfig
In Theaters:
Oct 15, 2002
Box Office:
Miramax Films - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Italiensk for Begyndere (Italian for Beginners)

All Critics (98) | Top Critics (33) | Fresh (74) | Rotten (10) | DVD (12)

Scherfig, who has had a successful career in TV, tackles more than she can handle.

Full Review… | November 6, 2002
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

An engaging Danish movie that rises from the ashes of loneliness and despair to spread feelings of happiness across the screen.

August 9, 2002
Denver Rocky Mountain News
Top Critic

A rarity: a humane picture about modern romance among believable adults.

Full Review… | July 20, 2002
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

[Scherfig] has made a movie that will leave you wondering about the characters' lives after the clever credits roll.

March 28, 2002
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

The combination of lightness and strictness in this instance gives Italian for Beginners an amiable aimlessness that keeps it from seeming predictably formulaic.

Full Review… | March 13, 2002
New York Observer
Top Critic

a lightweight story about matchmaking, the characters make it worth the journey.

Full Review… | June 24, 2011
Old School Reviews

Romantic, often comic but certainly for grownups.

Full Review… | December 24, 2010
Common Sense Media

A rare delight ... a joyous comedy that is at the same time grounded in real life with characters whose company is a pleasure.

September 21, 2007
Looking Closer

At the core a sweet, enjoyable movie that even the most casual movie-goer would enjoy.

Full Review… | June 21, 2007
Film Scouts

An incredibly low-rent Danish film, it brings a group of people together in a sweet and charming way, if a little convenient

Full Review… | December 18, 2002

This is a fine ensemble cast.

Full Review… | October 21, 2002
San Diego Metropolitan

Give Italian a try!

Full Review… | October 20, 2002
KBTV-NBC (Beaumont, TX)

These characters seem refreshingly real in their imperfect selves and their imperfect quest for love and friendship.

Full Review… | October 15, 2002
Cincinnati Enquirer

Obligada para impotentes, daneses, camareras italianas, profesores de idiomas, y todo aquel que desee una lengua para expresar su amor.

July 4, 2002

a delightful romantic comedy with plenty of bite. It's far from a frothy piece, and the characters are complex, laden with plenty of baggage and tinged with tragic undertones.

Full Review… | June 17, 2002
Urban Cinefile

As long as Dogme filmmakers continue to exercise this brand of thoughtful, intelligent filmmaking the movement is in safe hands.

Full Review… | June 6, 2002

There is pathos in funerals, family issues, and loneliness but it helps the audience connect with the characters and makes them more real - they manage to find laughter even in the darkest of situations.

Full Review… | June 4, 2002

A dramatic comedy as pleasantly dishonest and pat as any Hollywood fluff.

Full Review… | May 17, 2002
Charlotte Observer

This warm and gentle romantic comedy has enough interesting characters to fill several movies, and its ample charms should win over the most hard-hearted cynics.

Full Review… | April 26, 2002
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Scherfig doesn't let her characters' sadness accumulate, but lets them shed the weight of their emotion by sharing the load.

Full Review… | April 26, 2002
Salt Lake Tribune

Human without being overly sentimental, the film is touching and written with humour.

Full Review… | April 15, 2002

Will be of interest for anyone seeking unconventional romantic stories as well as those curious about the development of the Dogme movement.

Full Review… | April 14, 2002
Austin Chronicle

Audience Reviews for Italiensk for Begyndere (Italian for Beginners)


A Danish film from 2001 billed as a "romantic comedy", Italian for Beginners is not really a comedy at all, but a nice introspective look into our hearts and minds, where all are looking for something and find it through and because of community.

Filmed in single camera style, this has that low budget indie look to it, with some very abrupt editing as scene after scene cuts to tell the stories of a group of charactors in a Danish town. Dispite the editing and film style the director does a very nice job of keeping your eye interested by subtle use of closeups - not necessarily of faces, but hand gestures and such.

What makes this film fly is earnest acting and a wonderful story that shows the viewer the many charactors and then weaves them together through not only a series of funerals, but an Italian class (hence the title). I felt that the way in which all the charators seemed to move in their own arcs and yet all came together was reminiscent of The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, from a decade earlier.

What this film has going for it, is its honesty and the almost brutally naked way in which the charactors are portrayed - just real people, living real lives.

I can't really give a shout out to the actors - as it's often hard to get into nuance when you're reading subtitles - and I often found it surreal to be reading along and then realizing that the charactors had switched from speaking Danish, to speaking Italian (which they had learned in the class). However I will say that, while there are no big emotional scenes (except one which I will mention in just a bit), the lonliness and ofttimes dispair comes through easily.

There is a wonderful dramatic scene that speaks volumes about the heart of this film (and why it really isn't a comedy at all). The parish Vicar has recently lost his wife to cancer, and while he loses his parish, he is allowed to stay on and live in the vicary. When the new priest arrives, he cat calls through his sermon, saying that God is an abstraction.

When the new priest later confronts the old vicar, the old vicar states "God took my wife, and my wife took my God". A wounded soul if ever there was one - and the new priest can only respond that the vicar needs to move on with his life (assuming that God will right all wrongs, etc). This is all he can say, as he has recently lost his own wife - and FOUND God in the process - a contrast between light and dark, optimism and the abyss. Not the stuff of romantic comedy, is it?

paul sandberg

Super Reviewer

Sweet movie with some implausible, yet tolerable, coincidences. My first Dogme film and now I'm certainly more curious about the movement.

Alice Shen

Super Reviewer

Very strong effort. It is interesting how strong the connection is between Scandanavians and Italians and this is one is very a very well crafted study of that relationship and the search for romance.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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