Italian For Beginners

Italian For Beginners

**

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Everyone's dying in this movie. The Italian teacher conks out at class. The horrible father of the clumsy girl in the patisserie croaks while watching telly. The whiney mum of the hairdresser is given a fatal boost to her morphine drip. And then the funeral services get mixed up.

The jokes are squeezed through grey muslin. Imagine a non-descript Danish town, where the men are dull, or angry, and the women frustrated and sad. No, don't. It's too depressing. That town is this town. Welcome to Lone Scherfig's world. By the way, is there something significant about the writer/director's Christian name?

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The Italian class is where these emotional cripples meet and fall in love. Well, the ex-footballer who has just been sacked for being rude to customers at the stadium restaurant isn't in love with the lonely hairdresser. He just likes the way she strokes his hair when she's wetting it for a cut. The trainee pastor, on loan to the church because the resident incumbent has gone off his rocker, is so damp behind the ears he doesn't notice when ladies make passes. As for the assistant manager at the hotel, he hasn't slept with a woman for six years and thinks he's forgotten how. Frankly, do you care?

Italian For Beginners comes wrapped in accolades and, at least, one award. As a tribute to those who are not blessed with personality, the film is a ray of hope. Even here, in the land of disused desire, people can learn a foreign language and, maybe, visit a warm country. Of course, it comes down to character in the end. Ensemble movies, like soap operas, depend on empathy. If there ain't none, you have a problem.

What's the Danish for "feelnothing"?

Reviewed on: 24 Apr 2002
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Lonely hearts meet for Italian lessons in a small Danish town.
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Director: Lone Scherfig

Writer: Lone Scherfig

Starring: Anders W Berthelsen, Anette Stovelbaek, Ann Eleonora Jorgensen, Peter Gantzler, Lars Kaalund, Sara Indrio Jensen

Year: 2001

Runtime: 112 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Denmark

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