A young minister, a widower, is temporarily assigned to a church whose suspended pastor drove parishioners away; he stays at a hotel where he meets Jørgen, who's alone approaching middle age. Jørgen's friend Finn, a temperamental restaurant manager, may be about to be fired. Finn's assistant is Giulia, a lovely young Italian who prays for a husband. Olympia, a clumsy bakery clerk, has an ornery father; Karen, a hairdresser, has a mother who is very ill. The paths of these six characters cross at church, in the restaurant, at the hotel, and at an Italian class at the local adult school. Loneliness, grief, solace, romance, and love may meet 'nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita.'Written by
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".
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