Projections - Movie Reviews

Italian for Beginners

Italian for Beginners

The hand-held camera work and the lighting and sound befitting a very low-budget effort would seem to tweak its audience from a well-rounded, ingratiating comedy.  Yet, as directed by Lone Scherfig, a Danish woman, a first for the Dogma 95 manifesto, Italian for Beginners lets the rich characters enliven an edgy, intersecting tale.  It nicely contrasts with Lars von Trier's controversial, yet deeply emotional Dancer in the Dark that featured a tragic figure in the character played by Icelandic songstress Bjork.

Don't be thrown off by the title, as Scherfig's fine work moves from Copenhagen to Venice and is in Danish and Italian with those dreaded subtitles.  Italian concerns some half-dozen unattached 30ish Danes trying to get something out of adult education where they learn a new language in a community center.  It's about making things happen personally that prods Beginners in a winsome way that cleverly packages budding romances.

Courtship eventually dances its way into a Venice getaway with an understanding into the interlocking unions Italian for Beginners doesn't follow the conventions of romantic comedy and strongly benefits from that.  Like the Swedish film Together, Scherfig makes the happy and sad moments in life truthful and moving and there isn't the neat finish of a Hollywood picture.  The characters have to deal with plenty of pain and heartache when it comes to loved ones and it's a credit to the performers and the writing that portraits never feel stereotyped.

Although this Dogma-styled production coincidentally has some dark irony to it, especially in its intimately lit setting, Italian for Beginners appeals quite favorably to unfettered viewers on the topic of love.

Italian for Beginners

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