Italiensk for begyndere (2000) Poster

User Reviews

Add a Review
88 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
Nine Lovely People, No Villains!
Ralph Michael Stein24 January 2002
What a pleasure "Italian for Beginners" is. Each character is appealing as well as complex and recognizable. A new pastor, bereft after his wife's death, interacts with an assortment of people who by accident or stumbling and fumbling intent come together in overlapping relationships. Romance is in the air, deaths dislocate several of the characters' lives, comedic movements help all to cope with the vagaries of life.

Taking place mostly in Denmark (with a restaurant manager whose style convinces me that he must have done an internship in a New York City eatery), the story revolves around the central goal of learning Italian. Only one of the main characters is from Italy, a beautiful waitress with the clearest agenda of anyone in the film. After wrestling through a non-Berlitz approach to the language all head for Venice where hearts meet and fun reigns.

Dogma 95 certificate or not, this is a convincing, endearing, excellent film. By intent or otherwise, many scenes are shot with a slight jerkiness that adds to a viewer's sense of inclusion.

Unfortunately this film won't screen in many theatres and rentals and sales will be the path to a wider audience. And this film merits a very big following.
19 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Charm that grows on you
WriConsult12 April 2003
I have to admit, after the first few minutes I was wondering if I'd even manage to finish the whole thing. Also, as this was the first Dogme film I'd seen, I was also really questioning the whole concept. The opening scenes seemed amateurish in both filming and acting, with jerky editing and camera movements, and seemingly one-dimensional characters. But it really grew on me as I kept watching. The more the characters revealed themselves, the more sympathetic and complex they became. It actually became quite engrossing as the film progressed. There were just so many moments of geniune warmth and humor. In fact, what really struck me about this film after it was all over was its geniuneness. I haven't seen anything so heartwarming in a long time. 8/10.
34 out of 39 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Thoroughly enjoyable and totally devoid of Hollywood-style contrivance
Xenon2422 February 2003
I had the pleasure of seeing Italiensk for begyndere in a pretty small, intimiate cinema, which set the audience up beautifully for this movie.

The characters really drive this story, rather than the film pushing the characters around. What results is a movie that takes its own time to say what it needs to say, and that allows us to gain insight on what really is a broad spectrum of very human, very diverse personalities.

Romantic comedies-dramas, by and large, are pretty hit-and-miss, though more miss than hit if they come from Hollywood. They're bogged down in clichés, saccarine melodrama and characters that don't at all behave like real people. Italiensk for begyndere avoids all that, giving us characters that could just as well be the person sitting three seats from you in the cinema, that's how human they are.

I didn't feel at all cheated with this film, and left the cinema feeling like I saw a film that speaks to people. Superb.
31 out of 37 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Bravo!
jotix10021 March 2002
This is a very intimate and enjoyable film. It shows every day characters in their own surroundings interacting in a manner that is very naturalistic and true. Director Lone Scherfig has directed with a sure hand and the situation is believable.

The ensemble cast plays well, as it is with the majority of the Dogme95 films. At times, they make us forget that we are watching a film, as it struck me, that I was just intruding in the life of a bunch of people in that town in Denmark.

What is amazing is that the film doesn't become an Italian travelogue as it would have been the case had this story been done by a non-Scandinavian director with pressures from studio heads. It has the right amount ingredients and it makes a delicious minestrone for all to enjoy.

Bravi a tutti!
33 out of 40 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Dogma For Beginners
mmq00712 March 2002
This is a pleasant and entertaining little movie and it was fun seeing new faces and styles. The story is interesting and relevant. The people believable and charming. I enjoyed getting to know them as they got to know each other. the film employs a delicate approach to such topics as death, impotence, God and loneliness. I wasn't always enthralled. A couple of scenes dragged a bit and my attention began to wander. The woes and goals of some characters lacked originality. The situations have been depicted many times in many movies. None the less, I was never bored, never annoyed and did not feel slighted as the viewer.

An impressive cast and tight direction keep the show moving efficiently and provide a dependable vehicle for the delivery of the intended results in a satisfying manner.

What surprised me was the number of cinematic conventions incorporated into a project that reportedly meant to avoid them. I claim no authority on the Dogma 95 movement, but I understand they aspire to strip a movie of as many mainstream cliches as possible. Standard story elements and cinematography are not what the filmmakers wish to present.

One of the conventions they frown on is the artificial insertion of background music. Yet this movie does use such incidental music in one scene, in a very traditional format. It's even an old, familiar tune. Like "Rock Of Ages" at a funeral or "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" when we see Yankee Stadium. And for an approach expected to break with tradition, there is an awful lot of happily ever after in the resolutions to the various conflicts.

The average looking actors and the less than beautiful scenery add greatly to the believability. The fun they, and in turn, we have with it offsets any flaws in the production. But it's going to take more than a hand held camera and a Scandinavian accent to overcome 100 years of accepted film technique. But I enjoyed the show and if they keep trying, I'll keep watching.
15 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
One fine romantic comedy
dlpatrick119 February 2005
This is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding romantic comedies at the beginning of the decade. A Dogma 95 film, this movie exemplifies the challenges put up by the group of film makers that created Dogma 95 in Copenhagen. DOGMA 95 counters the individual film by the principle of presenting an indisputable set of rules known as THE VOW OF CHASTITY. The rules (10 in all) include principles such as: shooting must be done on location (scenes in Venezia) and on a sound stage used to rehearse Sound of Music--an auditorium where the Italian classes are held. Music should not be used unless it occurs where hte scene is being shot (how refreshing not to have Hollywood scores interrupting the natural sound). Hand-held camera-- this produces a feeling that you are doing the filming yourself. I felt that when Andreas was swimming in the hotel pool. Special lighting is not acceptable -- again the auditorium and the lights. Or the restaurant lighting. The characters in this movie are so real one feels you have met them before. You can read the plot elsewhere if you haven't seen this movie. There are pairings in this movie that show romance at its best -- forgiveness for the foible (Olympia was probably born with fetal alcohol syndrome-- Andreas understands this and near the end when he suggests she sing in the church choir, he suggests they prepare for her falling over into the pews. Giulia's budding love for Jorgen Mortensen is a treat -- little prayers in the kitchen -- and rehearsal for the big moments. This movie even treats impotence with the gentleness and humor and understanding that the best of life can deal. Perhaps most erotic is the scene where Karen washes Hal-Finn's hair in her salon -- ummmm! Not enough can be said about this movie. So to cut it short -- go see it -- watch it several times. A magical experience awaits -- where real people with real foibles find real connection.
24 out of 29 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Another dogme hit.
McBuff16 February 2001
At the time of writing, "Italian for beginners" is a big hit on the Berlin Film Festival. The reason may be that it´s another film made under the Dogme 95 certificate, but it can easily stand on its own, without comparison to "The Celebration", "The Idiots" and "Mifune". Basically it´s a comedy-drama (although one of the Dogme rules prohibits genre definition) telling several interwoven stories connected by the Italian-for-beginners-class. There are a whole variety of characters: the young pastor, the hothead short order cook from the sports restaurant, the clumsy girl from the bakery etc. All very recognizable everyday types, but beautifully realized by its talented cast, with special kudos to Peter Gantzler, cast against type and hilariously underplaying as the nerdish impotent hotel clerk. Lars Kaalund is also very funny, sporting a very authentic sounding Italian.

Director Lone Scherfig has made a very endearing, romantic film that is very universal in its tone, which is probably why it has performed so well at the Berlin film festival. For a feel-good movie experience, you should definitely go see "Italian for beginners".
21 out of 25 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
A Delightful Romance in Dogma 95
Claudio Carvalho10 May 2004
In Denmark, six lonely persons are having Italian classes sponsored by the City Hall. Jørgen Mortensen (Peter Gabtzler) is a shy hotel manager who has a crush on Giulia (Sara Indrio Jensen), a young Italian woman who works in an Italian restaurant and is secretly in love with him. Olympia (Anette Støvelbæk) is a clumsy clerk of a candy shop, who lives with her sullen father and is in love with Andreas (Anders W. Berthelsen), a young widow priest recently arrived in town. And the hairdresser Karen (Ann Eleonora Jørgensen), whose mother is an alcoholic woman, who loves Hal-Finn (Lars Kaalund), an incompetent and aggressive bar manager of the hotel where his best friend Jørgen Mortensen works. I am not a fan of Dogma 95 movies (the movement which uses handheld camera, natural light and sound and no special effects), but in this delightful romance the actors are so spontaneous that indeed it works. This unconventional love story, with euthanasia, common people, losers in general, Danish persons speaking Italian, is actually a great romance. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): ` Italiano Para Principiantes' (`Italian For Beginners')
17 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Proof that budget doesn't matter
potblackettle28 July 2003
A clever film, with low production values but a witty script and great cast. The characters are so real and vivid. You sympathize with them, want them to succeed. There are so many tiny little things that make it leap from the screen. As you become caught up in the story you forget that the camera is a little shaky, the video not always perfectly focused. The scenes in Italy are absolutly beautiful. The director uses colors well, the color of the characters clothes reflects their emotions. Never heavy handed or pushy, just a sweet little film.
9 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
I had much fun watching this movie
LeRoyMarko26 March 2006
What an evening well spent watching this film. It's poignant, touching, funny. It explores themes that are not always easy to talk about on the big screen: euthanasia for one, impotence for another. It also touches the tragedy of losing someone close to you. The cast is very good, all six of them, but especially Anette Stovelbaeck, Ann Eleonara Jorgensen and Peter Gantzler. And Sara Indrio Jensen is superb! Too bad she hasn't played in another movie. The dogme style goes well with this story. But one must get pass the first 10 minutes or so during which the hand-held camera can make you a bit dizzy!

Seen at home, in Toronto, on March 25th, 2006.

80/100 (***)
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
loading
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews