7.1/10
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87 user 98 critic

Italian for Beginners (2000)

Italiensk for begyndere (original title)
Several lonely hearts in a semi-provincial suburb of a town in Denmark use a beginner's course in Italian as the platform to meet the romance of their lives.

Director:

Lone Scherfig

Writers:

Maeve Binchy (based on her novel "Evening Class"), Lone Scherfig (screenplay)

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20 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Anders W. Berthelsen Anders W. Berthelsen ... Andreas
Anette Støvelbæk ... Olympia
Ann Eleonora Jørgensen ... Karen
Peter Gantzler ... Jørgen Mortensen
Lars Kaalund Lars Kaalund ... Hal-Finn
Sara Indrio Jensen Sara Indrio Jensen ... Giulia
Karen-Lise Mynster Karen-Lise Mynster ... Kirsten, the real estate dealer
Rikke Wölck Rikke Wölck ... Lise, the nurse
Elsebeth Steentoft Elsebeth Steentoft ... Kirketjener
Bent Mejding Bent Mejding ... Reverend Wredmann
Lene Tiemroth Lene Tiemroth ... Karen's Mother
Claus Gerving Claus Gerving ... Klaus Graversen
Jesper Christensen ... Olympia's Father
Merete Voldstedlund Merete Voldstedlund ... Andreas' mother (scenes deleted)
Henning Jensen ... Leif (scenes deleted)
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Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Asistencia Opcional. Pasión Requerida. (Attendance Optional. Passion Required) See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Sandrew Metronome

Country:

Denmark | Sweden

Language:

Danish | Italian | English

Release Date:

10 May 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Italiano para principiantes See more »

Filming Locations:

Avedøre, Sjælland, Denmark See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

DKK 4,563,271 (Denmark), 15 December 2000

Opening Weekend USA:

$66,047, 20 January 2002, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$4,447,186, 7 July 2002
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| | | (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Dogme 95 co-founder Lars von Trier was critical of Lone Scherfig making a romantic comedy with a resolved ending, but Scherfig insisted that she would make the film according to her own sensibilities. See more »

Goofs

At the Christmas service, the congregation use the hymn book to sing "Barn Jesus i en krybbe lå". However, this song was not included in the hymn book of 1953 (which would be the one used in the movie) as it was not considered a "proper" hymn until 2003, when it was included in the newest version of the hymn book. See more »

Quotes

Olympia's Father: That sounds disgusting.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The R1 DVD release features an even shorter cut of the film, running only 97 minutes. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Holiday (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Barn Jesus i en krybbe la
(hymn)
See more »

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User Reviews

Dogma For Beginners
12 March 2002 | by mmq007See all my reviews

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.


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