Vanya (Kolya Spiridonov)
Italian” focuses on children sold as commodities. The acting and the visual
landscape create a timeless, memorable film, and it’s a ‘must see’ if you like
excellent cinematography (Aleksandr Burov).
“The Italian” is a Russian film that does not take place in Italy. It’s about a
little boy who lives in a dilapidated orphanage in a small Russian village. The
countryside setting is remote, and we sense this feeling throughout the film.
The people are removed from contact with others, the poverty is evident, and the
isolation is haunting.
An anxious Italian couple visits the home for abandoned children. They long for
a child of their own and have lots of love to give. But that’s where the loving
ends. Those who run the decaying institution are in it for the money. They
only care about selling cute little kids to couples who can’t have their own
children. They focus on foreigners who can pay. Their greed permeates the
would-be parents are charmed with one little boy, Vanya (Kolya Spiridonov).
After Vanya meets his proposed new parents who have arranged to come back in a
few weeks to take him to Italy, the other children at the orphanage begin to
call him “The Italian” and tell him how lucky he is to have found parents who
will give him a real home.
But soon after,
an incident occurs at the orphanage that changes Vanya’s mind about being
adopted, and he becomes obsessed with finding his real mother.
The casting of the film is excellent. The talented, young actor, who plays
Vanya, reflects a determined spirit, far beyond his years. The shabby, old
director of the institution (Yuri
is perfect for the role of a weak, alcoholic who suffers under the viperous
glare of the “Madam” (Mariya
who arranges the adoptions. She’s an overweight, demanding,
business lady whose venom is chilling.
*Berlin International Film Festival: Best Feature Film
*Academy Awards, Official Selection from Russia, Best Foreign Language Film 2005
*Toronto Film Festival: Official Selection
Directed by Andrei Kravchuk, 99 minutes, 2005, Russia
Guidance: Mature Theme, Language May Offend