The Italian is amazingly bleak, a real tearjerker, but that also makes it a powerful Russian film. (Yes, The Italian is Russian – a good title and play on words).
Emotional highs and lows really pull you into the lives of the characters. The red tape, corruption and the basic need survival is displayed in various characters and in many different ways. For this to be Andrei Kravchuk’s debut as a director, one can only expect many more good films to follow.
What works for me is ‘Oh-so-cute’ six-year old Vanya, Kolya Spiridonov, and the portrayal of his life and bad living conditions in post-Communist provincial Russia. This film is about his struggles to deal with (at such a young age) the villainous adoption agency and ‘grown up’ thoughts and fears that being adopted will bring. Will he ever be reunited with his real mother again?
As a viewer, I wanted what was best for him. For Vanya to live his dreams and find his mother so all was well again. After all, a child this age shouldn’t really be asking for much more. But due to circumstance, he has little choice in the matter and sees far more than most children his age should, as he is forced to make life changing decisions on his own.
This well paced, engrossing foreign film, encourages you to want what Vanya does, but is it really the best thing for him? The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence, and in Vanya’s life, it wasn’t even green to start with.
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