Movies Books Music Food Tv Shows Technology Politics Video Games Parenting Fashion Green Living more >

Lunch » Tags » Movies » Reviews » The Italian (2005 movie) » User review


A movie directed by Andrey Kravchuk

< read all 3 reviews

If you have heartstrings, they will be yanked

  • Aug 14, 2007
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, even if the subject matter is different.

Vanya lives in a crumbling orphanage and is set to be adopted by an Italian couple (which is why his friends start calling him Italian). Shortly after this, a woman shows up to reclaim her son—something that had never happened before—but he had already been adopted. The director of the orphanage called her every name in the book because she abandoned the boy years before. This makes Vanya very curious about where he came from; before this he seems to be like most of the kids he shares space with, he just assumed he had always been there and, were it not for the Italians, would still be. He enlists the help of a young prostitute who hangs around with the older boys who keep the orphanage running, basically. She helps him learn to read so he can break into the safe, find his file, and find out where his mother lived.

From here it is an adventure he is forced to deal with on his own. He is only 6 but is able to use natural charm and tactics learned at the orphanage to make his way. How this comes about and what happens next . . . well you have to watch it for that.

Kolya Spiridonov plays Vanya. He carries an emotionally difficult film in a way similar to Haley Joe Osment at his best. This alone is reason enough to watch the film. The rest of the cast supports him and they do not stand in the way of a brilliant, what seems natural, talent.

You Are Not Alone is an idyll at a boys’ school where kids who are almost on the fringe make a world for themselves that is entirely supportive, no questions asked. One of the themes is how the children and teens make this world work for them. The orphanage does the same thing, but out of a different kind of necessity. These are the abandoned, not the troubled. The main difference between them is cultural. Denmark is a kinder nation generally; a slightly crumbling (or nearly totally crumbling) section of Russia is less kind. But the emotional panoply is almost identical.

It is nearly impossible to ignore the plight of a child who learned to read by a teen prostitute and makes his way based on wiles like that. However, what happened to me was nothing at all to do with pity but with a strange feeling of pride for him. This investment is much harder to swallow than pity and it lasts longer, but in a good way.

The women he meets are almost universally kind and the males almost universally threatening. I got the impression this was more a storytelling trick than a mark of culture. While the women were kind, they were not always helpful and while the males were threatening, they were not always cruel. What Vanya has to decide each time he meets someone is first, “can I trust” then “how much can I trust?”

Here is where another, more famous, story comes to bare: Oliver Twist. Vanya is a confidant in the gray/side business that the older boys run (they go to gas stations and clean various parts of cars). This plays out like Oliver Twist in that there is a level of camaraderie among the dispossessed, but the main difference is there is no central Fagan in The Italian. The older boys take care of Vanya but there is also the constant threat that the one who controls the money will at least beat someone who holds back money (as Vanya discovers for himself). There is no doubt from a storytelling point of view that this child learned far more from that complex relationship than from anything else. And it is this that helped him on his way.

This is a very rare review for me in that I didn’t have to block off a section for plot spoilers. It’s been about two months since I’ve seen a film like this one. I would rather not wait another two months for the next one.


What did you think of this review?

Fun to Read
Post a Comment
More The Italian (2005 movie) reviews
review by . 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 …
review by . May 23, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
About the reviewer
Paul Savage ()
Ranked #56
I name and describe everything and classify most things. If 'it' already had a name, the one I just gave it is better.
Consider the Source

Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.

Your ratings:
rate more to improve this
About this movie


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...
view wiki


Director: Andrey Kravchuk
Genre: Foreign
Release Date: 2005
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Andrei Romanov
DVD Release Date: May 22, 2007
Runtime: 1hr 39min
Studio: Sony Pictures
First to Review

"Once in a Lifetime"
© 2015 Lunch.com, LLC All Rights Reserved
Lunch.com - Relevant reviews by real people.
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since