fbpx

Italian for Beginners

Lone Scherfig

Italiensk for begyndere

The first Dogme film directed by a woman is also the least typical. Unlike Lars von Trier’s The Idiots or Thomas Vinterberg’s Festen, Lone Scherfig’s bitter-sweet romantic comedy breaks no new ground in terms of either subject matter or formal concerns, sharing with its predecessors only a loos storytelling style and a concern to avoid Hollywood-style artifice. In this sense it is closer in tone and spirit to Søren Kragh Jacobsen’s Mifune, which observed its well-drawn characters and mildly contrived emotional conflicts with a searching but sympathetic eye.
The early scenes are slightly disconcerting, featuring a dark humour which slowly lightens as the story develops. A small Danish town’s replacement pastor, Andreas (Anders W. Berthelsen), lost his wife to suicide only six months ago, leaving him vulnerable to the romantic advances of clumsy baker’s assistant Olympia (Anette Støvelbæk). When the teacher of an Italian evening class drops in mid-term, the pupils persuade one of their numberobelligerent bar manager and keen Juventus fan Halvfinn (Lars Kaalund)oto take over. Meanwhile, shy hotel manager Jørgen Mortensen (Peter Gantzler) has his eye on Giulia (Sara Indrio Jensen), a beautiful Italian barmaid. Halvfinn himself has fallen for voluptuous hairdresser Karen (Ann Eleonora Jørgensen), but is caught slightly off-balance by her sexual confidence.
Eventually, the characters find a way to express their feelings for each other during a relationship-cementing class trip to Venice. A charming romantic tale in which six lovelorn Danish thirtysomethings discover that clumsiness, low self esteem and a lack of social skills are not necessarily barriers to finding true happiness.

Denmark, 2000. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 112 mins.

Screenings

Cinema Calendar