The Italian review

“Everyone here envies you,” insists the headmaster (Yuri Itskov) of a provincial Russian children’s home to six-year-old Vanya (Kolya Spiridonov). The urchin’s been selected for illegal adoption by an Italian couple in a deal lucrative for both the Dickensian orphanage and grasping female broker Madam (Maria Kuznetsova). But then Vanya jeopardises things by doing a bunk to search for his birth mother… The feature debut of Andrei Kravchcuk, The Italian has the air of a bittersweet fairytale, our young hero encountering varying degrees of kindness and cruelty from the strangers he meets on his quest. Vividly characterised and convincingly acted (not least by Spiridonov), it makes for a fascinating portrait of a post-Communist society beset by crime and despair.

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