The Italian **
Directed by Andrei Kravchuk
Written by Andrei Kravchuk
Kolya Spiridonov as Vanya Solntsev
Mariya Kuznetsova as Madam
Denis Moiseenko as Kolyan
Dima Zemlyanko as Anton
Sasha Sirotkin as Sery
99 Minutes(Rated PG-13 for some violence, sexual content, language and thematic issues. )
"The Italian" is an obvious tear jerker, and doesn't even try to pretend that it isn't. It is a modern day Charles Dickens tale without the charm, and without the conflict. Everything seemed so easy to do in this, and the end makes you roll your eyes in how perfect things turn out. I suppose that that could be a refreshing thing, but I just found it completely irritating. In the world of "The Italian," the good guys are very good, and the bad guys are bumbling and sometimes stupid. There's even a bad guy that changes his mind at the end and lets the hero continue his quest. But I couldn't really care. I suppose our main character and actor Kolya Spiridonov is the saving grace, and manages to carry this contrived screenplay to great heights, which is incredible because he can't be more than ten or so. But this film is too easy, too obvious, and too simple.
"The Italian" begins in a Russian orphanage, where everyone is elated because a couple is coming to adopt a child. The young orphan Vanya is groomed and prepped to be viewed by the couple-a young Italian one. The three of them manage to hit it off, and oddly enough the woman in the couple even hugs him seconds after meeting him. They decide to adopt him, and Madam, the owner of the orphanage is excited-not so much for Vanya but for the large check that the couple intends on giving her. Vanya even begins to be called "The Italian" by the older orphans, who live in their own little shack and often get stoned. One of them whores herself around so that the group could buy food. Vanya's peace is disturbed when one of the mothers of an abandoned boy comes for her son, only to learn that her son has been adopted. Vanya talks to her by the bus stop, and learns a few days later that she has killed herself. Vanya suddenly begins to rethink being taken by this Italian couple. He begins to wonder about his own mother, and if she comes back to visit him he doesn't want to be missing. He escapes from the orphanage with the help of the whore orphan, and goes on a quest, braving the Russian streets, to find the home where his mother is. All the while he is pursued by Madam, and her horny husband, who refuses to allow this money transaction to be taken from her.
Like I said, this is a tear jerker, and one that is far too easy. Vanya knows exactly where his mother will be, because in her file there is an address. And the ending comes out of nowhere. Something is happening(and it'll involve blood), and then two minutes later the credits on rolling, and all is happy. I am all for heartwarming films once in a while, but this was just cookie cutted to perfection, and goes over the top to try and be heartwarming. It doesn't earn any tears because the script is so contrived and simple. No conflict, and I could never get emotionally invested into anything that was happening. Once again Kolya Spiridonov is the saving grace of the film, in a wonderful performance. He offers the perfect balance of cute and innocent, and also mature and wise behind his years, as he travels the streets, meeting people, and running away from those who are after him. "The Italian" is good for those who are easily seduced into happy endings and carefree plots, but if you want to be moved through earned emotions, look elsewhere. "The Italian" is more Tear Jerker 101, and writer/director Andrei Kravchuk needs to mature a bit as a writer if he wants a satisfactory heart wrenching drama. 2007 continues to disappoint, even in the art house world.