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Italian For Beginners

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Italian For Beginners

Starring: Anders W. Berthelsen, Ann Eleonora Jorgensen
Director: Lone Scherfig
Rated: R
RunTime: 112 Minutes
Release Date: January 2002
Genres: Comedy, Romance, Foreign

*Also starring: Anette Stovelbaek, Peter Gantzler, Lars Kaalund, Sandra Indrio Jensen

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewvideo review
2.  Harvey Karten read the review ---

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

Dogma films like Lone Scherfig's ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS (ITALIENSK FOR BEGYNDERE) have to abide by strict rules, including only handheld cameras, no artificial sets, no artificial sound, all-natural lighting, etc. In short, the filmmakers shoot under exactly the same conditions that you do when filming your kid's birthday party. This actually can be a good thing, as movies like THE CELEBRATION prove. But without a strong script and energetic acting, Dogma films can produce the same sleep-inducing effects as watching your neighbor's home videos.

Drifting aimlessly among a group of characters whose common thread is learning Italian, this Danish film offers little to keep our attention. It's not clear how to classify the movie since it never quite rises to the romantic, comedic or dramatic, although there are aspects of each of these in the script.

Most of the characters in the story suffer various misfortunes. Andreas (Anders W. Berthelsen), the new pastor in town, has trouble even attracting a quorum for his services. It seems that if only two people show up, he can cancel the service. After Olympia (Anette Støvelbæk) mispronounces her Italian, her teacher has a heart attack, literally. And Hal-Finn (Lars Kaalund), the manager of a sports restaurant at a hotel, is summarily fired for what he feels is insufficient reason. None of these incidents have any emotional impact since the director never creates believable characters. They are all just actors appearing in his home movie.

ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS runs a long 1:52. The film is in Danish and Italian with English subtitles. It is rated R for "language and some sexuality" and would be acceptable for teenagers.

Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes

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