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

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A funny "feel-good" film with great characters!!

Author: anton-6 from sweden
30 March 2002

A good script,great acting and very funny. It´s filmed with a digital camera(and that does not bother me at all). This is a romantic-comedy that has many funny points but it´s also a bit dramatic and touching. The best about it is the lovely characters that makes this film very entertaining and funny. Really worth watching.


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4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Dogma at its worst

Author: charbrom
8 December 2001

Warning: not every dogma-film is worth seeing. Take, for instance, Italian for Beginners. It's a story without pace or any good moments. Characters are boring and have absolutely nothing to say. The film goes on and on and on, without getting better. Worse: it's predictable and annoying. Let's hope that Thomas Vinterberg (Festen) makes another movie soon. 3/10

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Strangely good for Dogme95

Author: spilla from United Kingdom
1 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When I went to see Lars Von Trier's "Breaking the waves" years ago I coined a new film-genre: the Guilt-Flick. Since then, I only watched Dogme95 films to analyse their technique, because I have researched how to apply their "10 commandments" in depth at university. I am a micro-budget filmmaker myself - although I now Dogme95 isn't about budget. It can take a lot of money to look that cheap! Some of my Scandinavian friend attribute the grim atmosphere of the Dogme95 guilt-flick to the Puritanical influence. I can relate to the desire to show "life as it is" as a rebellion against special effects-laden Hollywood films, but the amount of unhappiness shown in the first half of this film nearly puts you off watching the rest of it. It is still a very gentle, beautifully edited and shot story (especially compared to the atrocious "Kingdom"), and the actors are talented and obviously well directed. (SPOILER COMING UP!) When the Italian classes lose their teacher, the local council gives the job to Halvfinn, who likes football so much he doesn't even know that "Penalty" in Italian is "Punizione" and not "Punire". What really baffles me is that there is an Italian girl in the village, Giulia, whose Italian is genuine (I know, I am Italian myself!), but she won't get the teaching job!!!! My partner objected that she couldn't get the job because she spoke little Danish, but so did the old Italian teacher. He is only on screen for a few minutes but would still drive you mad with stereotypes: he is trying it on with anything remotely female, his name is Marcello (yeah, like Mastroianni in "La Dolce Vita" and his surname is Mercoledi', Wednesday! Is this a clever pun on Robinson Crusoe or they couldn't be bothered looking up a more realistic-sounding Italian name? And Giulia - this is 2000, and she is praying (praying!!!!) that the man she fancies will like her new hair. That's ridiculous, and offensive for Italian girls in general and all the more so for the ones that chose to be religious. Giulia's character is some leftover from a 1950s romance, and should have no place in a story that strives so hard to be true to life. And as for Catholics not having sex before they're married... see "1950s romance" above! It is still a beautiful film, that manages to combine tragedy and comic moments in true melodrama style (the character of the old Pastor is fantastic!) and I recommend it to anyone who doesn't like the "exploding cars" film genre (you all know what I mean).

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A Real Romantic Film

Author: shark-43 from L.A. CA
19 January 2002

This movie surprised me with how powerful yet funny it could be. The writing and the acting are both top-rate and the characters (even with their little quirks)seemed so real. I enjoyed the mixture of pain,grief and loss with sex, love and flirting. Ive read comments where people felt the two didn't mix but to me that's what made it like real life. Yes, there is a nice wrap-up at the end, but what is wrong with some lonely characters finding some happiness in their lives? Ive enjoyed some Dogma 95 films (Celebration, Dancer In The Dark)and disliked some (Idiots, Mifune) but I felt that this movie worked on almost every level. Enjoyable, funny and even sweet.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

It is not funny at all.

Author: Hunky Stud
7 February 2003

I rented this DVD, because I thought that this is a comedy. However, it did not make me laugh at all. There is nothing funny about this movie at all.

And the cameraman should be fired for doing such a bad job. It does not look like a movie, rather, it feels as if you are watching a documentary. The camera constantly moves, jumps, and twists. With its pictures, it does not entitle for a big screen viewing. A tiny TV screen would be sufficient enough.

The movie did not start with a good beginning. It did not show all those usual credits at the start. You would feel the need to check to see if you are actually watching the chapter 1 of the movie.

On the other hand, the story is not too bad. Those actors are also authentic. Nevertheless, I suggest that you watch this movie only if you are bored, and can not find anything else to do. It does not elicit your emotion, your attention. It is just a story for several common people.

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7 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

4 Funerals and it Really Sucked

Author: spinbunny from London, Ontario
7 July 2003

This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen --- first of all, it was filmed on crappy videotape instead of film and the entire "movie" jumped up and down (hear of a tripod??? it doesn't move up and down...)

Let's see .... four morose funerals, eternal talk of impotency, about 3 minutes in Italy, drunken fights, non-stop talk of death, and the cover is total false advertising (I expected a lush, romantic comedy set in Italy and I got a sucky morose drag set in a 2 cent set in Denmark!).


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7 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Filmmaking for Beginners?

Author: jhclues from Salem, Oregon
7 December 2002

Back in the early ‘90s, when I was tooling about making home movies as a lark, and NEVER taking any of it seriously, I had NO idea that I had actually stumbled upon a method of filmmaking that very soon would be touted as THE method of the true, bona fide `auteur' (or, more accurately according to the tenets of the `method' used in this film, the `ANTI-auteur'), and that one day I would be watching `Italian for Beginners,' directed by (well, credit for the directing cannot be given, as it would be against the `rules,' which I will get to in a moment) and filmed in much the same-- in fact, the EXACT same-- style that I had employed back in what I now know were MY `auteur' (excuse me; my `ANTI-auteur') days. But having watched this film, the evidence is irrefutable; I know, because I've just finished watching the movies I shot back then with my trusty camcorder to get a comparison. And all I can say now is: `STAND ASIDE AND GIVE ME ROOM-- I'M ON MY WAY TO SUNDANCE!'

In 1995, Danish filmmakers Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg developed a new (?) filmmaking technique, for which they co-wrote a back-to-basics guide entitled `Dogma 95,' a manifesto for filmmakers who, by adhering to the rules set forth in the text, would become a part of the `newest' new wave to hit the industry, subsequently referred to as the `Cinema of Poverty,' and with good reason.

If you're thinking of giving this film a go, before you watch it you MUST know something about Dogma 95 to have a chance in the hot place of making it through to the end. There are ten `rules' set forth in the manifesto, as well as an addendum, a handful of items tacked on (afterthoughts?), such as `I am no longer an artist' (which after watching this film I fully understand and agree with). But the main things (rules) you must know going in are these: The movie must be filmed on location, with only a hand-held camera and using only whatever light is naturally available. And `music must not be used unless it occurs where the scene is being shot.' (Somewhat contradictorily, two of Von Trier's subsequent films were musicals; his disclaimer: `The rules are not meant to ‘limit' creativity, but to ‘spur it on'). Rule #10 states: `The director must not be credited.' In retrospect, the wisdom of THIS rule is beyond reproach.

There IS some substance to this story, imbued as it is with elements of classic Bergman as it examines `loss' on a number of levels through the lives of a small, diverse group of individuals in various stages of disenfranchisement. Their common denominator is the class in, well...Italian for beginners, to which they seemingly gravitate, each with their own specific reasons and motivations. The class becomes a kind of focal point for them; it is here that relationships are formed or honed, and their lives begin to intersect. Now, had only Bergman been on hand to direct them.

These are everyday folks, just going about the business of living; and quite frankly, they aren't all that interesting, nor are their respective stories. The group includes Hal-Finn (Lars Kaalund), an obnoxious restaurant employee who hasn't as yet caught on to the `customer/employee' dynamic-- he's self-absorbed, rude and insufferable; Jorgen (Peter Gantzler) lacks self confidence; Karen (Ann Eleonora Jorgensen) a hairdresser who never seems to be able to finish a client (Hal-Finn is in her chair at least three times, but never gets past the hair-wetting phase before some crisis or other calls Karen away, sending poor Hal-Finn away each time with a wet head and no haircut); Olympia (Anette Stovelbaek) who works in a bakery, where no doubt she sells danish (pun intended; I have nothing to lose at this point); and Andreas (Anders W. Berthelsen), a pastor who has taken a temporary assignment six months after the death of his wife. But listening to the thoughts (and I intentionally do not use the term `ideas' here) of a randomly selected group of postal employees on the dock at 3 a.m. at the post office would be intrinsically more interesting than anything that occurs in this film. Berthelsen, especially, spends the entire movie looking confused, like he's a contestant on Jeopardy! but can't figure out why Alex keeps giving him the answers instead of the questions. Or maybe he's just trying to understand what he's doing in this film to begin with. Where, oh where, is Ingmar when you need him?

On a positive note, the performances here are for the most part quite natural, if not engaging. Kaalund, at least, makes a lasting impression with a character reminiscent of Rutger Hauer's Eric Vonk in `Turkish Delight' (aka `Turk's Fruit'), from 1973; perhaps that's why Hal-Finn is always getting in `Dutch' with his boss (again, pun intended).

The supporting cast includes Sara Indrio Jensen (Giulia), Jesper Christensen (Olympia's Father), Lene Tiemroth (Karen's Mother) and Carlo Barsotti (Marcello). There are those who are going to like, even applaud, this film; personally, I'd rather watch paint dry. To connect with this film one has to be able to embrace, or at least get beyond, the whole Dogma 95 thing. I couldn't. Okay, perhaps I just don't `get' it; to this day I still don't get the Andy Warhol `soup can' deal, either. Just know that `Italian for Beginners' is definitely NOT going to be for everyone. I do find it interesting that the `rules' are also referred to as the filmmakers `Vows of chastity,' and that in reviews of Dogma 95 films the terms `chaste,' `austere' and `pure' always seem to surface. In the great scheme of things I know it means something; what it is, I don't know. But bear in mind that the manifesto also states, `Furthermore I swear as a director to refrain from personal taste!' And with that, I rest my case.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:


Author: stefano1488 from Italy
14 August 2002

I went to see this film after having read reviews which made me expect an insightful comedy, light-hearted but not superficial.

In all fairness, I was disappointed.

This film is really nothing to write home about. I'd say it's pretty dull but for the strange sense of humour which makes it a bit amusing.

It's reminded me also of "Amélie" a bit. Like "Amélie", it's pretty sweetish.

I've been very surprised to learn that it was awarded the "Silver Bear" in the Berlin Film Festival.

However, the thing I've found most irritating is the way in which us Italians are depicted, a way which is deeply stereotypical and misleading. I know that the film isn't about Italy and Italians, and that the Italian language course is just a pretext in order to tell the story of six people who learn to break the ice that surrounds their everyday lives. Despite that, I can't help judging this film also for the image that conveys of us Italians.

By the way, I've never heard of someone whose surname was Mercoledì ("Wednesday"), like the rather ridiculous teacher who features in the film. I can also assure you that it would be very unusual of a girl these days to pray to the Virgin Mary for her love to notice her, and that no, it's no longer true that Catholics (even Italian Catholics) only have sex after marriage.

Quite frankly, I'm tired of foreign film depicting Italy and us Italians in a way which would be nearly offensive if it weren't, more simply, just absurd.


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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Something different from Hollywood fare.

Author: cmyklefty from Philadelphia
6 May 2002

Italian for Beginners is an interesting study of characters learning a language from another country by understanding themselves and people in the class. The film is unique because, I think there is not another movie like it in the world. The film is slow moving, but it give an idea of each character point of view in the plot in the film. I have enjoyed this film. If you are in a talking feature without no violence or car chases, then this your film.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Nice movie from Denmark

Author: ( from Bern, Switzerland
25 February 2002

"Italian for Beginners" is a nice movie, with a funny story even though the first part of the film is a little lethargic... Six mid thirties in the middle of a life crisis meet in publicly held Italian lessons. The story evolves in a funny happy end, where almost every one finds his beloved one... Not on the same level as "Festen" but still worth looking!

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