An Abandoned Russian Orphan: His Sacrifices and Dreams
May 24, 2007
'Italianetz' (THE ITALIAN) is a strong Russian film from the pen of Andrei Romanov under the direction of young artist Andrei Kravchuk - the kind of film that enlightens us about problems in Russia but also provides one of the more tender stories about a child's resilience on film.
Apparently in modern Russia there are orphanages for abandoned children which serve as repositories for adoption by needy parents throughout the world, adoptions brokered by savvy Russian sponsors who, despite the seeming heartlessness of their vocation, are doing a service in providing homes for these unwanted children. The orphanages depicted in THE ITALIAN are not of the Charles Dickens' workhouse place types, but rather are homes run by kind people who encourage and support the children in a loving way.
Vanya Solntsev (Kolya Spiridonov) is a six-year-old orphan who has just been selected for adoption by an Italian couple visiting his orphanage. At first happy about his 'good fortune', he soon encounters a distraught mother (Dariya Lesnikova) looking for her own abandoned son and Vanya longs to return to his own birth mother. He is taught to read by a kind prostitute Irka (Olga Shuvalova) enabling him to search the orphanage files to discover the whereabouts of his birth mother. Much against the advice of his fellow orphans and those rowdy boys with whom he associates outside the orphanage, Vanya sets out to find his mother and in hot pursuit are the brokers for the adoption and the police. He hides, encounters all manner of obstacles and misfortunes on his journey, but at last he discovers his birth mother and the film ends with one of the more tender concepts imaginable.
The cinematography by Aleksandr Burov is moody and captures the feeling of peril Vanya encounters. In one of the more original musical scores for film Aleksandr Knaifel has elected to compose themes played solely on the high treble keys of the piano, on the xylophone and on bells: the feeling is one suggesting the small stature of the children, making their views the more important ones of the story. The cast is uniformly outstanding with special credit going to the warmth of the performance by young Kolya Spiridonov. Recommended for all audiences. In Russian, Italian, some English with subtitles. Grady Harp, May 07
Pros: Best performance by a child actor I've seen since Billy Elliot Cons: nothing The Bottom Line: Even for someone who doesn't like subtitles but likes good stories, this is the ONE film you need to see. Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. In June I reviewed a Danish film called "You Are Not Alone The Italian (a Russian film) shares some of the same emotional impact, … more
In the heart of every orphan's life there is the shroud of mystery concerning one's biological parents. So strong is this desire that six-year-old Russian, Vanya (Kolya Spiradonov) is reluctant to be adopted by potential Italian foster parents visiting his orphanage. With envy coming from every child and great pressure from the Madam and other directors, his inquest seems daunting at best from the start. Still, one night at a bus stop, he meets into a woman who grieves over giving up her son, forced … more
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
Consider the Source
Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.
Despite the title, THE ITALIAN is actually a Russian film set at a bleak orphanage in rural Russia. The story opens when six-year-old Vanya Solntsev (Kolya Spiridonov) is introduced to an Italian couple who are hoping to adopt a child. Vanya is a handsome, bright-eyed little boy, and the couple takes an instant liking to him, agreeing to give him a home. It is quite clear to the other children, and to little Vanya, that he is in an extremely enviable position. The adoption by the Italians will take Vanya away from the miserable conditions of the orphanage, where the teenagers run a mini-Mafia, taking candy from the children and doling out beatings whenever anyone withholds money from them. <br> <br> Vanya is nervous, though accepting of his fate, until the mother of another orphan comes to reclaim her son, and she is told he has already been adopted. After she is forced off the premises, the woman commits suicide. When Vanya learns of this, he is desperate to find out whether or not his own real mothe...