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Reviews & Ratings for
Italian for Beginners More at IMDbPro »Italiensk for begyndere (original title)

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It flows beautifully!

Author: soryo1 from Romania
13 April 2010

A movie for the soul, where every character is built carefully and has it's own sensibility. The dialog and the story are well constructed, i did not knew were the time went. In some moment in the movie you know how it is going to end but it's a joy to watch, you grow fond for the characters one scene more beautiful than the other. I personally like best Jørgen Mortensen and Giulia couple because it creates the essence of love it's filling it's beauty it's power to overlook anything. It's a romance movie a story of hope centered on people, on the power of friendship as a family where by the presence of another being who listen to you and value you makes you feel important.

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Though I missed the Dogme era 95-2000 This is a great film.

Author: dfwforeignbuff from Dallas Tx United States75214
15 February 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 Broadcase 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. 5 stars

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Dogme-lite? No worse for it!

Author: colinTheBarSteward from North Midlands (ok... Stoke), UK
6 August 2008

A lovely, feelgood film that manages to avoid being twee through several flashes of that dry, dark, Danish sense of humour; as well as a willingness to look at life's realities square on, without overt sentimentality, but with a tentative optimism.

For those familiar with Dogme '95 this is proof that it doesn't always have to be vaguely disturbing or downright shocking truths that the medium wrings out of its characters and situations - life isn't always that bleak. For those not familiar with Dogme, this film presents a warm and inviting pool in which one may dip one's toe comfortably.

The six lead characters are three-dimensional and likable, including Lars Kaalund's Ramseyan restaurateur Halvfinn. The support is a little more exaggeratedly drawn, but still sympathetic for the most part. The plot is uncomplicated (no prizes for guessing the minor twists) but none the worse for that - part of the Dogme vow of chastity is to avoid the horrendously contrived plot twists favoured by Hollywood today over proper character development or story (you know the usual suspects).

One to watch with (teenage) offspring, parents, partners, business partners, potential clients, complete strangers... in fact, just about anyone who's around.

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A complete charmer

Author: Martin Bradley ( from Derry, Ireland
29 June 2008

Watching this superlative film from Denmark I kept thinking just how awful the American remake would be, (unless, of course, it was directed by someone like Thomas McCarthy or Tamara Jenkins). It's about a handful of lonely people in what, presumably, is a small community and whose lives intersect on a daily basis but who come to know each other more much intimately through the Italian class they attend every week. They are also linked by love and death; the death of parents and loved ones and the love which they find with each other. It's very funny and it's genuinely charming. If a major Hollywood studio were to do this I doubt if it would be either. But it is also honest and fairly uncompromising and it treats all the characters on screen with affection and with respect, something Hollywood seldom does.

It's also superbly acted. This is a brilliant ensemble and there isn't a dud performance in sight; impossible, then, to single out one performance but these people live on long after the movie ends. It is also so well directed by Lone Scherfig that you simply forget there's someone behind the camera telling the actors what to do. Perhaps that's the real achievement of Dogme 95; you forget you're watching a movie and feel instead like you're visiting old friends.

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Heartwarming and true

Author: paul2001sw-1 ( from Saffron Walden, UK
3 June 2008

The Dogme 95 manifesto was a call for a return to a naturalistic style of film-making; but the first film made according to its principles, Lars von Trier's 'The Idiots', was a playful attack on every convention of film in spite of its basic technical nature. 'Italian for Beginners' is more like what one might expect a Dogme film to resemble, if one hadn't seen 'The Idiots' first: a portrait of everyday life, told without artificial over-embellishment. And it works. On one had, this is a story of the misery of lonely people living in a grey northern town; on the other, the shape of a potential happy ending is visible quite early on. And yet there's something believable in the performances, as well as a sly sense of humour, that enables the movie to transcend its modest proposition and genuinely warm the heart, a story of ordinary people regaining their confidence in life after hard times. If every film was like this one, you might find yourself longing for a bit more ambition; but in a world full of empty noise, it's nice to see a movie whose director seemed to care about making his film ring true.

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An exemplary Dogme 95 Film

Author: L. Denis Brown ( from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
7 August 2007

In the 1990's a group of Danish film makers developed protocols for a new style of filming which was intended to give a more natural looking product than most large studio productions. These films are now listed as following the Dogme 95 franchise. It encourages filming exclusively on location with hand held cameras. If a studio is used, the lighting must be simple and natural. The most distinctive feature is however that all background music not required by the story is excluded, this can provide a very refreshing change after watching films where the mood has to be established through the soundtrack before every sequence. Italian for Beginners is one of the later Dogme productions and is a classic "feel good" film which most viewers may not remember as memorable, but the vast majority will regard as enjoyable viewing. I recommend it strongly to anyone not familiar with any of the Dogme films, both as a film and as a good introduction to this franchise.

The story is of a group of rather drab and depressed individuals who decide to learn a little Italian to enable them to better follow the program of the Venice film festival. Gradually the challenge of undertaking a difficult task together brings colour into their lives and they become both more interesting people and more interested in each other. (The most serious criticism of this film is that, in order to highlight the extent of the change they experience, they appear so uninteresting in the early sequences it is initially very hard for a viewer to become involved in the story which is being unfolded.) Ultimately romances bloom, other important changes in their lives can be seen developing; and the film conveys the clear message that everybody has to contribute something before they can get anything back.

Forget the Dogme protocols - they are useful to know but not very relevant. Personally I love the simplicity of the sound track in a Dogme movie, but I hate an over-shaky camera; neither are critical aspects of this film. Essentially, this is a film about ordinary people - not one with a gripping story or overwhelming spectacle; but one which nevertheless has won many awards. If they last out the early sequences, most viewers find it very rewarding to watch. My IMDb rating is 7 stars.

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Not the best Dogme-movie, but I had a good time with it.

Author: Philip Van der Veken from Tessenderlo, Belgium
27 July 2005

I'm a fan of the Scandinavian cinema and especially of the Dogme-films. I like their way of filming an honest story in a believable way without too much extra's. I'm sure that the average viewer will not like it at all, because they just don't understand what it is all about. You don't get one murder after the other, no big car chases, no extreme violence, no gore... It's the characters and the story around them that has to save the movie, and that's something most people don't seem to get. But when you are like me, you watch several movies a week and keep an open mind towards all kinds of movies, other than the average Hollywood blockbusters, than this is definitely a form of cinema that you have to try.

The story in "Italiensk for begyndere" or "Italian for Beginners" as the movie is called in English, evolves around the lives of several inhabitants of a quiet community somewhere in Denmark. All characters meet each other during a beginner's course in Italian and use it as a way to meet new people in the hope to forget about their own personal problems, to find new friends and - when possible - to find love.

If I'm honest, than I must say that I didn't like the movie all that much at first. I'm already familiar with Dogme-films, but this one really looked very amateurish and awfully edited and filmed, even for a Dogme film. It even made me doubt if I would be able to keep watching it until the end. But I decided to stay with it it and I must say that I'm glad that I did. The movie has some other qualities that only show when you stay with it long enough. The story for instance is nice. It combines some humor with good drama and with heartwarming romance. And no, it never gets syrupy or over-the-top. It all feels genuine. Another positive aspect, next to the interesting story, is the acting. Even though I've never heard of most of them, all actors did a very nice job, making me wish to see more of their work.

In the end this is a nice and heartwarming movie, but I wouldn't call it the best Dogme-movie ever. That certainly doesn't mean that it isn't worth a watch, but I'm convinced that even the fans of Dogme will have to agree with me that it looked quite amateurish. That's also the reason why I believe this isn't the best movie for people who aren't familiar with this kind of movies. If this is the first Dogme-movie that they will see, chances are big that they will never try another one. Still, I had a good time with this movie and that's why I give it a 7/10.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Three weddings and two funerals.

Author: fastmike from Long Branch, NJ, USA
4 November 2002

Although this film won't win any awards for technical achievements (it was probably filmed with one camera), it is certain to win your heart.

The film excels in its simplicity, indeed, its' simplicity accents the entire plot and its' settings.

The entire cast impressed me as performing straight from the heart and not a contract.

The combination of Danish mixed with Italian and English subtitles will make this a little difficult to follow. I don't know if there is a dubbed version; if there is, get that.

One strange thing you might notice. Throughout the entire film, I only saw one scene where a person carried a computer keyboard, let alone see a desktop or even a cell phone for that fact. 21st century technology was conspicuous by its' absence. I actually began to wonder when this was film was made!

There's a little 'foul' language, at least by subtitled translation, and a sex scene, which needs no subtitle, nor translation.

All in all, I can only say Bravo!

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A beautiful movie, even if a bit "fairy tale"

Author: arlindo nogueira marques correia (correar) from Lisbon, Portugal
3 August 2002

That's a beautiful movie… `in spite of ` the Dogma 95… The astonishment of the characters regarding the death impressed me very much.

On sex relations it's a bit `fairy tale', but I can forgive the director taking in account the good time I had seeing the film.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

a charmer

Author: dwblurb from Perth, Australia (currently in London, UK)
16 June 2002

A charming treat, with excellent performances all round, especially from Peter Gantzler as the impotent Jørgen Mortensen, and all the female characters. A witty romantic comedy that today's Hollywood would be entirely incapable of making.

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