Italian For Beginners

Rated 4.0 Danish writer-director Lone Scherfig, the first female to work under the Spartan tenets of the Dogme 95 film collective (handheld cameras, organic sounds, natural lighting and no special effects or makeup) ventures onto the tipsy lily pads of romantic comedy. She combines an old-fashioned roundelay and pseudo-documentary film techniques into a sort of comic home video melodrama. The story about six lonely hearts who gravitate to a Copenhagen Italian class plays like a Meg Ryan hug fest channeled through John Cassavetes with Ingmar Bergman undertones as Scherfig juggles such serious issues as death, fetal alcohol syndrome, suicide, shaken religious faith, and euthanasia with generally bad hair days. Like the director, these people are in search of simplistic, intimate connections in a world ripe with both infectious character and characters.