Wilbur and Harbour are around 30 years of age when their father dies. The second hand bookstore they inherit has certainly seen better days – if there ever were any, that is. After a failed attempt to commit suicide, Wilbur becomes a patient of Horst, a rather cynical psychiatrist. The ward nurse at the hospital,Moira, and Harbour are convinced that the only thing that will help Wilbur combat his depression is a girlfriend. But although women are attracted to Wilbur, none have as yet managed to get close to him. Instead, Harbour is the one who finds himself falling head over heels in love with Alice, when she enters the lives of the two very different brothers.
Alice has a young daughter,Mary, and lives the isolated life of a single parent. In addition to her job cleaning the surgery at the hospital, she also earns a little money selling the books that patients leave behind on their beside tables. Gradually, Wilbur, Harbour and Alice get to know one another. The stronger their relationship becomes, the more Wilbur begins to regain his zest for life. Alice too begins to break out of the cocoon in which she has been living, and her daughter Mary becomes an avid reader of the bookstore’s extensive stock. Harbour was never this happy before. However, a secret lurks inside. –Berlinale
Danish filmmaker Lone Scherfig is part of the Dogme 95 film movement, which espouses a form of cinéma vérité that eschews special effects and glitzy treatment of its subjects. Cameras are handheld; films are shot on location with no extraneous props or atmospheric music. This is all part of the group’s renowned, so-called “Vow of Chastity.”
Employing the principles of Dogme 95, Scherfig made Italian for Beginners in 2001. The film won the Silver Bear juried prize at the Berlin Film Festival, and has enjoyed accolades from audiences in Europe and America, where the director made a special version minus the Danish inside jokes. The romantic comedy — a new direction for the normally serious Dogme 95 — centers around a group of disparate people in Copenhagen, who meet to learn the Italian language. Relationships form; romances blossom; the story unfolds with ever increasing complications and convolutions, hinting at the complexities of love. The love angle may reflect a female sensibility… read more