Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


The Italian

The Italian
Starring:
Kolya Spiridonov and Maria Kuznetsova


Rated: PG-13  for some violence, sexual content, language and thematic issues
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: January 19, 2007 Released by: Sony Pictures Classics

A small-scale drama in the post-Soviet Union has the feeling of an adaptation of Charles Dickens.

The setting of The Italian is a remote, sad orphanage with sensitivity for the disheveled state of the nation at a time in the late 20th century.

A young lad, a bit gullible, is up for adoption by an Italian couple, but Vanya (Kolya Spiridonov) isn't excited by the idea of relocating to a place far less dreary and claustrophic as much as one might think.

The wisely crafted feature by Andrei Kravchuk has him on a quest to search out his birth mother after one learns the goings-on at the orphanage where the kids make money through some unsavory means.

Andrei Romanov's screenplay has a riveting quality to it from the way Vanya understands how a good, honest future can come from such a wanton lifestyle.

Spiridonov endows Vanya a quietly courageous quality that helps The Italian eschew a sappiness it might otherwise caress in the assurance to reach one's true sanctuary. Though some emoting comes from a domineering Maria Kuznetsova as the orphanage headmaster, a bold broker of sorts, Kravchuk is able to make a poignant statement from dark, treacherous ambiguities.

  Frank Chris Tony Jim Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
The Italian       B       B

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