Northern European films so often leave me feeling like an umbrella salesman trapped in the Sahara; set adrift in a bleak and meaningless existence. Italian for Beginners had its share of slow lingering parental deaths, disfunctional families, major social faux pas and the ever popular loss of job. Yet, in spite of the doom and destruction raging all around, love and happiness sprout up through cracks in the asphalt, giving us the feeling that everything may just work out after all.
I discovered after seeing the film that its director subscribes to a filmmaking movement recently started in Copenhagen called Dogme in which the director foregoes all but the most basic filmmaking implements in an attempt to reclaim the simple story telling aspects of film that Hollywood has thrown by the wayside in favor of glamor and special effects. I applaud the sentiment behind the movement and am glad to see such a fine piece of work come out of it.