Promotional poster for Italian for Beginners- 2001
If you're a Netflix subscriber I suggest you check out Italian for Beginners, a low-budget but purely sweet Danish film that came out in 2000. Set in Copenhagen, and briefly, Venice, Italian for Beginners follows the romantic relationships that develop among six men and woman during a gloomy and bleak Danish winter.
I alert you that the first 35 minutes of the film are utterly depressing: a young Lutheran pastor--who has just lost his wife-- is called to stand in for an older pastor who's lost his faith and is bent on destroying the congregation; two main characters are care givers for appalling and miserable parents; a friend becomes responsible for firing a volatile best friend, and; a charming but physically incompetent girl can't hold a job because of epic scale clumsiness. If you can hang on past all this Scandinavian despair you'll be rewarded with a bit of deft comedic acting and a very satisfying ending.
Part of the film's appeal for me is that it is quintessentially low-budget and obviously made on a shoe-string. Initially, you may be turned off by the low quality footage which almost looks like a home video. Once you get past the hand held culture of the flick, however, the lack of visual artiness is minimally distracting when the context of the dialogue, depth of the characters, and story fully emerges.
Italian for Beginners features wonderfully competent actors, none of whom we're ever heard of, and a production staff equally uncelebrated. The film is rated "R" for some strong language (subtitled) and sexual content and is about 118 minutes long. If you enjoy foreign films and have a couple of spare hours I encourage you to connect with Netflix and get this on your home viewing device.