Italian for Beginners

The latest in the "official" Dogme films from Denmark, Italian for Beginners starts off in dark vein similar to the other entries in this mini-genre, but it brightens up as it rolls along, following a motley band of adults in small-town Denmark whose only fun comes from a weekly Italian class at the local college (and even then, they don't seem to be having much fun).

With comic swiftness, the teacher drops dead, as do the tyrannical parents of two sweet-natured but put-upon women in the class. A priest who has come to the town to replace his predecessor (who has lost his religion - and most of his sanity - after the death of his own wife) has also recently become widowed. It is through their shared grief that these people reluctantly come together, fall in love, and learn Italian.

Far more charming than it sounds, Italian for Beginners is still served well by the Dogme rules (handheld camera, no music or sound effects, location shooting, and documentary-style editing). As is typical with these films, the cast is excellent, the characters are fully-formed, and the story is tight (though there is melodrama, it's served up with a wink). Get out there and go see it. Whether you're a film snob or a romantic or both, you will find plenty to enjoy.