Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Italian (2005)* * *

The Italian (link to DVD at Amazon)
The name notwithstanding, this is a Russian film about the journey of a young boy in an decrepit orphanage to find his birth mother who abandoned him as a baby. That's it. The name of the movie comes from his nickname -- which he gets because he is about to be adopted by a couple from Italy.

This movie is great if you like rainy depressing movies about cute kids in rags. The movie is deliciously Russian -- nobody can do hopelessness and misery like the Russians. It looks rainy and cold. Grey, grey everywhere. Life is unimaginably hard, and the orphanage is the kind of place that will make any parent cringe. Early on a woman comes to look for the son (another kid, not the protagonist) she abandoned and finding that he has been adopted, she hurls herself under a train. How Russian is that? But this is not a bad movie. The acting is good -- the little kid who is the main character is great, the cinematography is good -- especially if you like blue-lit rainy eastern European rundown village-scapes, and the plot moves well and never drags. I liked the movie and would recommend it if you are in the mood for a Russian version of "My Life As A Dog". The movie is not depressing; this isn't a movie about a kid getting emotionally traumatized, rather it is a movie about a kid overcoming hardship and the bond between a child and their birth parents.

However I should also say that I watched this with two friends and I was the only one who sat through the whole movie.
Here is an entertaining review: Italian review