Russian Movie Review

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Orphan tale hurt by failure to adopt credible story line

Kerry Lengel, The Arizona Republic, Movie Preview, Page 1 Feb. 9, 2007

Six-year-old Vanya is one of the lucky ones. Growing up in an overcrowded orphanage in Russia, the fair-haired waif is chosen for adoption by a rich couple from Italy.

Jealous of his good fortune, the other children dub him "the Italian." But Vanya doesn't feel lucky. He's afraid that if he moves away, his real mother won't be able to find him. So he runs away from his cushy Mediterranean future to find her.

The debut feature by Russian director Andrei Kravchuk, The Italian is one part social statement and one part fairy tale. The depiction of the orphans' bleak lives is convincing and disturbing, from the children's thuggish system of "sharing" resources to the blithe acceptance of teen prostitution. And while the villainous Madam (Maria Kuznetsova) borders on the cartoonish a babushka Cruella De Vil she serves as a useful stand-in for a very real social problem in Russia: black-market adoption.

On the other hand, the story of Vanya (Solntsev Kolya Spiridonov) is less than convincing. Determined and resourceful beyond his years, he learns to read in a matter of weeks so he can break into the orphanage office and read his personal file. He travels alone by rail, eluding police and fighting off predatory children, all to bring the story to an ending that is equally unbelievable and untrue to the film's unflinching portrayal of hardship in post-Soviet Russia.

Playing Feb 9 thru 22 only at:
Harkins Camelview 5
7001 East Highland Avenue
(northside of Scottsdale Fashion Square) Scottsdale
Wed-Fri: 11:15am, 2:00pm, 5:10pm, 7:45pm, 10:15pm
Thurs: 11:15am, 2:00pm, 10:30pm

The Italian
Quick Flicks

2.5 stars (out of 5 stars).
Instead of being adopted by a rich Italian couple, a 6-year-old Riussian orphan runs away to search for his real mother.  Depictions of the difficult lives of Russian orphans are disturbing, but the story of a young child who outwits the system is less than believable. 95 minutes. Rated PG-13 for profanity, sexual activity, and violence.

Set in 2002, an abandoned 5-year-old boy living in a rundown orphanage in a small Russian village is adopted by an Italian family.  In Russia, every orphan longs for adoption. Vanya has other find his mother at all costs.

Irka (Olga Shuvalova), a teen orphan
turned prostitute, helps Vanya (Solintsev
Kolya Spiridonov) in his quest to find his

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