The fifth Danish Dogme film is also the first to be directed by a woman, Lone Scherfig, and the subject matter hardly augurs well: alcoholism, bereavement and mental illness. Thankfully these weighty issues are just a backdrop for a surprisingly feelgood comedy that concentrates on the romantic interactions of six individuals.
Three men (a pastor, a hotel clerk and a restaurateur) - form attachments with three women - (an Italian waitress, a hairdresser and a timid klutz who works in a bakery) - when they all join a language class. Their lives have been blighted by ailing parents, abusive ex-lovers and unfaithful partners, but each finds comfort in the linguistic, social and sexual possibilities the class provides...
Though not without the odd sombre stretch, Italian For Beginners is primarily a rich and uplifting story. Its adherence to the Dogme rules (handheld camera, natural lighting etc) result not in gritty, harrowing authenticity but a pleasing spontaneity, and create a real sense of empathy with the characters. More Cold Feet than Lars von Trier, you'd be an idiot to miss it.