Italian For Beginners uses natural lighting, muted cinematography, and a partially improvised script. The film is not about learning Italian, though the film's six thirtysomething characters all meet each other through an Italian class at the community center in their quiet, rainy town. The film is about real life and hardship and hope. A nurturing hair stylist, a clumsy bakery clerk, a committed pastor, a foulmouthed waiter, a friendly hotel manager, and a lonely waitress all struggle with the banality of daily life, while dealing with their own unique challenges. But as they begin to reveal themselves and their problems to each other, they form a bond and a network that is both a safety net and a new reason to live.
 

4
It bursts with genuine affection for its characters...

This romantic comedy deals with the lives and would be pairings of six misfits living in a Danish town. Writer/director Lone Scherfig’s beautifully textured screenplay overcomes any limitations of the genre by creating real and sympathetic individuals.

Pastor Andreas, Anders W. Berthelsen is newly appointed to the local church but has to stay in the hotel in the complex managed by Jorgen, Peter Gantzler, because the mad old pastor won’t move out of the rectory. Within the complex is a sports bar managed by rude, arrogant Hal-Finn, Lars Kaalund, who, in an attempt to make himself more presentable goes to see Karen, Ann Eleonora Jorgensen, who runs the hair salon in the complex. Rounding off the six are Olympia, Anette Stovelbaek, a clumsy bakery assistant who has a monstrous father and Giulia – an Italian waitress in the sports bar. For a variety of reasons all except Guilia find themselves in an adult education class learning Italian.

Conforming to the purity of the Dogma manifesto – handheld cameras using only available light and no manipulative music - Italian for Beginners isn’t cramped by the manifesto at all. It bursts with genuine affection for its characters none of whom are adept at romance - we can really empathise with their agonising tentativeness and with the burdens they carry in the film. This is such a charming film, a crowd pleaser with substance and genuine humanity performed by a splendid cast.