(In Danish with subtitles)
Reprinted from VP May 2002
Rated R. Running time 1 hr 58 min.
Our content rating (1-10): Violence 1; Language 3; Sex/Nudity 4.
Our star rating (1-5): 5
Lone Scherfig writes and directs her film with obvious affection for the ensemble of characters. They work at and live near a suburban complex that houses a sports facility, a restaurant, a hair salon, and a church close by. Andreas (Anders W. Berthelsen) has been called to replace the demented pastor of the church (besides vociferously berating his parishioners the former pastor shoved his organist off the balcony).
The young cleric soon drops in for a haircut at the salon and is drawn to the sweet Olympia (Anette Stovelbaek), who is caring for her elderly, thankless father and needs spiritual counsel.
The manager of the hotel where Andreas is staying is Jorgen Mortensen (Peter Gantzler), whose heart belongs to the non-English speaking Italian cook Guila (Sara Indrio Jensen). He sees that the newly offered Italian class might be the path to his being able to communicate his love.
Hal-Finn (Lars Kaalund) is the crusty manager of the restaurant, who tells off any complaining customers. When Jorgen, who owns the restaurant, orders him to get a haircut, Hal-Finn meets and falls for the hairdresser Karen (Ann Eleonora Jorgensen).
All the Danes become involved in the Italian class, but this is threatened with cancellation when their teacher suddenly drops dead. Fortunately best-pupil Hal-Finn agrees to fill in, with all sorts of relationships developing amongst the disparate members, including a class trip to Venice.
The way the various stories of the quirky characters is interwoven is a delight, but I was especially glad to see such a positive image for a change of the church and one of its leaders. Pastor Andreas is human, needing companionship and love, and yet an effective counselor and leader. The almost empty church begins to fill up as both in sermon and in his relationships with people he offers a positive, hopeful gospel. This is one of those absorbing, uplifting little films for which we should thank God that there are theaters whose owners are willing to show them, there seeming to be an inverse relationship between their profitability and their spirituality.