Saturday, 11 June 2011

Italienesk for Begyndere - Italian for Beginners

2000 by Lone Scherfig

Many years back some University students from Denmark, who after watching a couple of Indian movies with me, which included Lagaan, had told me that they get some very good movies in Danish. It took me long to watch one. I never expected there movies would be like this. If my memory is not outdated, this is my first movie from Denmark and what an experience it has been.

There are a few characters in a region. A Priest who has just lost his wife and is actually filling in for the permanent priest who is on suspension, A hair dresser woman, whose mother is sick and interrupts her work quite often, A very clumsy woman at a bakery, who has an old father who is quite dominant and difficult to manage, A rude manager at a restaurant in a Football stadium, A man who is afraid he is impotent and works in a hotel and a young girl working in the stadium restaurant. All these guys are somewhere around in the nearby streets where we have the Chapel, the hotel, the restaurant, the bakery and a muncipal hall where an Italian language class for beginners is organised by the local council. 

Some pretty ordinary characters in even ordinary circumstances live their routine life in front of the camera for us. The only unique point about all of them are they are loners in some ways. Thats how this movie start, a very slow and uninteresting start though. To be frank, it is quite difficult to pass through those first 10 or 15 minutes. Without any kind of cinematic help the movie jumps on to one of these characters right from the first frame and jumps to all others. It can take us by surprise, in the first few minutes, that what we are seeing is just ordinary life. But slowly but nicely this movie takes us through a great experience. By the end we are sure that we have seen one of the best feel good movies.

I cannot remember a different film which proceeds through so many ordinary characters without any kind of main plot at all. For some time I did think Short Cuts was the closest, but of course not. This is a very different attempt. Even the major catalyst of this movie, the Italian class for beginners is thrown in a very subtle way and it is only with time we see all characters merging in there. In between there are these two very touching moments of an Euthanasia and of two characters realising that they are sisters. I would say those scenes depicts the heights of capturing emotional subtlety in movie making.

This is a really unique movie, a unique way of making a romantic comedy in fact.  May be the most brilliant attempt in celluloid to capture the romance among the most ordinary and imperfect people during our times. I think that's the best way to explain this movie.

I cannot imagine, how they scripted or conceived this idea at all. May be all started from the end just like how the Tamil movie Kalluri was made and built a history for the characters. That is the most probably possibility.

Brilliant movie. 

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