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The Italian (2005)



Average Rating: 7.2/10
Reviews Counted: 93
Fresh: 85 | Rotten: 8

Poignant and unforgettable, The Italian stands out from other European melodramas. Like its extraordinary child lead, this Russian drama about an orphan's search for his birth mother is small in size and monumental in pathos.


Average Rating: 7.1/10
Critic Reviews: 34
Fresh: 30 | Rotten: 4

Poignant and unforgettable, The Italian stands out from other European melodramas. Like its extraordinary child lead, this Russian drama about an orphan's search for his birth mother is small in size and monumental in pathos.



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Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 26,709

My Rating

Movie Info

An abandoned Russian child forsakes a life of luxury in the name of finding his true mother in director Andrei Kravchuk's affecting drama. Vanya is a six-year-old boy who is about to be adopted by a loving Italian couple, but this is a crucial moment in his life, and there are choices to be made. Will Vanya be content to simply spend his days basking in the warmth of the Mediterranean sun, or will his desire to know his true mother slowly eat away at him from the inside for the rest of his life?

May 22, 2007

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All Critics (96) | Top Critics (35) | Fresh (85) | Rotten (8) | DVD (8)

Andrei Kravchuk's film is sensitive to the hilt and pleasingly attuned to the guileless outlook of its hero.

January 24, 2008 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This 2005 story about a Russian boy whose mother has given him up may be derivative, but it's still engrossing, largely because of its appealing juvenile lead, Kolya Spiridonov.

December 4, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This film is about many things, but the magic key that unlocks the treasure chest is literacy.

April 30, 2007 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

At times, the difficulties that Vanya encounters strain credulity. The Italian doesn't bother to infuse its characters with complex motivations. They're either Bad or Good.

April 27, 2007 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The ending isn't exactly happily-ever-after, but it leaves you with a deep-down respect and affection for this determined little tyke who perseveres against all odds.

March 15, 2007 Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Wise, resilient children aren't especially new to the movies, but when they're presented this sensitively, they're always worth revisiting.

March 9, 2007 Full Review Source: Detroit Free Press
Detroit Free Press
Top Critic IconTop Critic

With a tensed brow, Kolya Spiridonov plays a boy perpetually hovering between anxiety and dogged determination, and the film walks the same line, unsure about where it's going but always moving forward regardless.

June 9, 2008 Full Review Source: Paste Magazine
Paste Magazine

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.

January 24, 2008 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

A stunningly powerful indictment of the weakest in thrall to a corrupt system.

January 24, 2008 Full Review Source: Sky Movies
Sky Movies

An unsentimental and vividly characterized film which successfully combines melodrama and social analysis and features an impressive central performance from Spiridonov.

January 24, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

Even when Kravchuck lets the story drift, the boy is a solid anchor.

January 24, 2008 Full Review Source: BBC

Despite channeling Dickensian melodrama, first-time director Andrei Kravchuk skilfully avoids wallowing in sentimentality.

January 24, 2008 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

It's a touching film about a little boy with the determination of a champ.

November 4, 2007 Full Review Source:

It is hard-hitting, but with none of the fake, over-the-top violence of Hollywood fare, and packs an emotional punch without dredging it with sugar.

August 9, 2007 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

What really makes this potentially melodramatic story so powerful is the incredibly intense and focused presence of little Kolya Spiridonov, who makes you believe Vanya's determination and grit every step of the way.

May 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Like Vittorio De Sica, one of the great Italian neo-realists, Kravchuk populates his film with people, not paradigms; his characters are capable of good and evil, sometimes in equal measure.

May 19, 2007 Full Review Source: Baltimore Sun
Baltimore Sun

It is about love, family, and the power of kindness to overcome the cruelty in the world.

May 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

There are shocking and heartbreaking moments scattered throughout The Italian, but [director] Kravchuk approaches them with a nonjudgmental, observational style that avoids most of the pitfalls of melodrama.

May 11, 2007
Kansas City Star

A throwback to neo-realist filmmaking . . . snowballs in emotion until later scenes are stomach-knotting in their tension. The film largely avoids sentiment with its muted score and shadowed close-ups.

May 9, 2007
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

An odd, beguiling little movie -- about two parts Dickens (with some Dickensian Chaplin thrown in) to one part Italian neorealist cinema.

April 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

With a riveting performance by young Kolya Spiridonov as the six year old Vanya, The Italian is a bitter sweet drama that captures the heartbreaking squalor of Russian orphans while highlighting the power of the spirit.

April 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Cinematographer Aleksandr Burov captures a land of frost-coated fields, cracked plaster walls and weed-choked railways with a photojournalist's eye for the telling detail.

April 6, 2007
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Audience Reviews for The Italian

Wonderful movie. The little boy in this film is really adorable, and an extremely convincing actor. The story is not melodramatic, or deliberately tear jerking, as many child "lead" films tend to be. There are a few difficult scenes, but the entire movie as a whole was very sweet...and left me in awe at the direction. It really warms my heart to watch real quality films....this one including.
January 9, 2012

Super Reviewer

A very touching story about the struggles of a six year old Russian orphan, who (after landing the ultimate placement for a Russian orphan - a nice couple from Italy) has an incredibly mature epiphany that prior to the move.

What if his real mother comes for him after he is adopted? Does anyone know who his mother is? Is she still alive?

This sets him on a quest to find out the truth about who he is and how he became an orphan in the first place. A quest that is clouded by a shady child broker who tells him he must be an idiot to not want to go to Italy and threatens to have him locked up in the "idiot hospital" if he refuses.

What would you do? A happy adopted life in sunny Italy, or risk it all on the hopes of finding your real mother and staying in a rather bleak and cold Russia?

The journey is harrowing but heartwarming and the results are touching.
March 8, 2011
Robert C

Super Reviewer

This movie completely engrossed me, I haven't seen anything this emotionally rivetting in a really long time. It's one of those films that if it can hit the mark, it does...without mercy.

Of course, those of you who detest subtitles....beware! 'cause it's another foreign film, this time it's Russian.

I've not heard of any of these actors before, and this review is probably fricken' biased...but who cares...let's get on with the story!

It's about a little boy, Ivan [affectionately Vayna for short] Solnestev who is one of the numerous children in a little orphanage in some little town in Russia [I'm presuming]. Anyways, so the film begins with a nice young Italian couple coming by to check out this little boy deciding on whether or not they would like to adopt him and give him a fulfilling life in Italy.

Regardless of this fantastic offer, the little six-year-old is still in a dilemma as after his good friend Alesha Mushkin is carted off to another family a short while before...finally, his birth mother shows up distraught looking for him fervently. Instead, the director of the orphanage kicks her out and threatens to kill her. After drinking too much vodka sitting at the bus stop she waits until Vayna, his friend Anton and an older girl Natasha who went shopping come back and asks little Ivan to sit and talk to her about Alesha.

Later on we learn that 'allegedly' Mushkin's real mother threw herself onto the train tracks...although the older kids swear she just drank too much and fell and that starts Vanya thinking. 'What if when I'm in Italy and my real mother comes looking for me?' As his friend Anton says, 'Once they change your name, that's it. There's no hope of them for ever finding you again.'

Determined to find out about his birth mother Vanya takes on a lot of very brave, and sometimes quite foolish tasks that included breaking into the director's safe for personal files, stealing from Nikolai [who being one of the older kids takes advantage of the younger ones by having them work for him and give him all their money], and eventually leaving the chances of Italy far behind him.

The hardships that he faces seem a little bit surreal and unrealistic for a six-year-old to deal with but once engrossed by this film we stop and wonder 'how the hell do we know what we would do in that situation?'

The amazing quest that Vanya sets out on is something of a dream which he struggles to make a reality, facing various [dangerous] obstacles, kind people, neglect, apathy, escaping the authorities and so forth. Eventually he learns that the world isn't altogether necessarily a safe and happy place and that sometimes although the brain is yelling at us to stop our heart beats on stronger and louder drowning out any warnings that the brain utters.
December 19, 2007
This is a Great Movie, its in the Russian Language with English Subtitles. Its about a boy who is ready to be take'n in by foster parents in Italy, right befor the adoption, he runs off to find his real Mom. Worth the watch, but wouldn't let anyone under 16 watch it.
October 28, 2007
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

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  • The Italian (UK)
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