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DVD in Brief
Italian for Beginners

Guide Rating -  
Pros  •  Comedy filmed according to Dogme 95 rules
•  Great characters, fine actors
•  Real people with real problems
Cons 

• Unsteady Dogme camera work isn't everybody's idea of good filmmaking and looks even worse on your TV screen.

The Bottom Line - A warm and nourishing romantic comedy that doesn't force you to check your brain in the lobby.

 
Product Description
•  Six Danish singles look for love in evening classes
•  Lone Scherfig's directorial debut

Reminiscent of last year's "Together"
 
Guide Review

The DVD

As much as we loved this movie, we have to admit that the DVD looks terrible. With its hand-held 1:55 : 1 aspect ratio, the Dogme style seems even less movie-like at home than it does on a big screen. At 97 minutes, the DVD version is also significantly shorter than both the US theatrical release (112 min) and the European version (118 minutes). If you can make it past the initial shock though, the interest in the characters and the story takes over and "Italian for Beginners" begins to work its magic.

The Film

Romantic comedy--with its conventions of unblemished star faces, swelling theme music, and gauzy lighting--seems like an unlikely genre for a Dogme film, a pedigree that, after all, calls for handheld cameras, no artificial light, no overdubbed music, or any of the usual trappings of manipulative Hollywood cinema.

Even more thrilling, then, that Lone Scherfig pulls off just that: a tremendously touching film about six loners who find love. A bereaved pastor, a clumsy baker's assistant, a hairdresser, a hotel manager, an angry waiter -- normal people who struggle with loss (you need both hands to count the deaths in this film) and try to find a ray of light in their evening Italian classes at the community center. The film is pitch-perfect in plumbing the depth of their pain before it slowly allows for a remarkable recovery. "Italian For Beginners" is an unfettered, honest potrayal of everyday people finding happiness. It is all the more involving for its lack of obvious manipulation -- and Meg Ryan is nowhere in sight.

  
 Related Reviews    Related Resources
• Together
• Calle 54
• With a Friend Like Harry
• The Anniversary Party
• Before You Buy
• Italian Lessons from About.com
• Official Movie Site (in Danish)
• Official Dogme Site

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