Italian for Beginners Reviews

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maxthesax
Super Reviewer
½ November 7, 2010
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?
Super Reviewer
January 24, 2009
Sweet movie with some implausible, yet tolerable, coincidences. My first Dogme film and now I'm certainly more curious about the movement.
Super Reviewer
February 15, 2010
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.
½ September 30, 2014
Nothing really holds the movie together with enough substance, just mostly plays as separated characters with different stories that don't ever really feel connected (even with the Italian class). The Dogma 95 style of jerky handheld cameras was the wrong approch for this movie, it's pretty distracting throughout, and doesn't work with the romantic comedy aspirations of the movie.
March 31, 2010
This is one of those "Dogme" movies, which means the asshole director most likely thinks he or she is better than every other director in the world, but guess what - I liked it. It's evenly drama and romance and everyone can act their part. It's another one of those films high on coincidences, with every character interrelated in some form or another, but I hadn't seen one of those films in Danish yet, so perhaps that's why I took a like to it anyway. Optimistic, feel-good, funny, with characters you care about (Maybe that's what the coincidences were scripted to do?)
½ June 22, 2008
i normally have a strong dislike for Dogme films, but this is a great little love story. simple and sincere
June 22, 2008
I liked this a lot. I find the whole Dogme95 style of filmmaking intriguing, but the other films I've seen have been very dark. This one managed to stay more on the lighthearted side.
February 2, 2014
won the Jury Grand Prix Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, the Golden Spike Award for the best film of the year at the Seminci film festival in Valladolid, Spain, and the Audience Award at the Warsaw International Film Festival in Poland. Peter Gantzler won the award for Best Actor at the Seminci festival. The film also won the Gold Dolphin (Best Film) at the Festroia International Film Festival in 2001.
April 10, 2013
Although a bit slow and hum-drum at first, this sweet little film grew on me. The immediacy of the video-taped quality made it remind me of an episode of Britain's Coronation Street. An enjoyable view.
June 10, 2012
Einer der besten dänischen Dogma 95 Filme
½ June 10, 2012
Lars Von Trier inició en 1995 un movimiento cinematográfico llamado Dogma. La historia se encargaría de llamarle Dogma 95.
Este fue un intento por basar las películas solamente en historias y personajes, más allá de efectos especiales o adornos innecesarios (desde el punto de vista de esta corriente) para el servicio de la historia y el desarrollo de los personajes.
Se realizó incluso un decálogo, donde se estipulaban las reglas de esta escuela como por ejemplo: Que no fueran películas de género (comedias, misterio, suspenso etc.), que la iluminación fuera natural y no manipulada por nada ni por nadie, que no tuvieran música y cosas por el estilo.
Dogma 95 sin duda ha sido uno de los movimientos cinematográficos más relevantes de los últimos años.
Esta película danesa "Italiano para Principiantes" pertene precisamente a ese selecto grupo de cintas. Cuenta la historia de algunos personajes que convergen en un curso de Italiano.
"Italiano para Principiantes", podría ser considerada, la única película romántica de la corriente Dogma 95. Una buena cinta con una bonita historia.
May 24, 2011
An interesting and at times amusing film. Typically European with only a little influence from Hollywood. I did enjoy more the second time.
maxthesax
Super Reviewer
½ November 7, 2010
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?
June 8, 2010
A tenderhearted masterpiece of modern film-making, created by Lone Scherfig adapting Maeve Binchy's story "Evening Class." At first, I found it took a few minutes to get accustomed to the simple home-video style of the film; and then I was amazed by the Dogme 95 process and how it served the story by accentuating the characters' human frailty and spiritual strength. Overall, I don't know a lot about Danish film, but if you liked "Babette's Feast," here's Christmas for you...
February 15, 2010
Italian for Beginners-2000 Italiensk for Begyndere. A film from Denmark. An unforgettable romantic comedy that's earned overwhelming acclaim, ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS is a warm & playful story about seven perfect strangers & the shared journey of discovery that changes each of their lives! In 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! Hal-Finn (Lars Kaalund) who is in love with an Italian woman but is afraid to tell her, Olympia (Anette Stovelaek) who uses the class as excuse to get away from her demanding mother, & Carmen (Ann Eleonora Jorgensen) who has a similar problem with her alcoholic mom. Not your usual lighthearted romance, Lone Sherfig's heartwarming comedy warms the usually chilly Dogme 95 world of prickly eccentrics & damaged souls with a glowing sense of hope & passion. A belligerent restaurant manager, a repressed hotelier, a lonely hairdresser, & a clumsy, childlike bakery clerk are among the lonely thirty something's who escape the social disasters & comic chaos of their unfulfilled lives in an Italian-language evening course. It becomes a place to dream & to heal emotional wounds (& they have more than their fair share of scars). Sherfig manages to turn the familiar social landscape of films as The Celebration & The King Is Alive--fractured families, abusive parents, tragic pasts-into a backdrop for romantic comedy. If not exactly profound, Italian for Beginners remains a sweet, hopeful, & affirming tale of eccentrics who find friendship, family, & romance while learning the language of love. I liked this movie a lot! I don't know why the National TV Broadcast companies and Movie Productions companies don't try using to Dogme idea to make one hour real drama mini movies. (even full length 2 hours movies) this film is a success. I liked this movie a lot!
5 stars
September 6, 2009
I think I don't need to say how well made is this Film. It's made under the Dogma 95 vow of chastity and has great acting and story. One more thing: the DVD menus are great and also well matched to the movie style.
November 18, 2006
When I started watching this film, I somehow thought it was French. I'd recently attempted to see a French film and quicklly fell asleep due to the slow pace. Italian for Beginners was unassuming. A film about life. Truthfully a drama, but not a sad one. The persistence of the characters was at times cute. Learning was the one thing they had going for them. Made me think of loneliness. Of the fact that so many people in the developed world are lonely. .. and so many people everywhere else too. Starting to think that it is ok to be in one's own company. It's not so bad. I finally start to understand M... and C.... more.
½ March 4, 2006
A fun little film. Though not LOL and a bit bitter sweet.
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