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The Italian Review

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An abandoned five-year-old boy living in a rundown orphanage in a small Russian village runs away to find his real mother.

★★★★★

Despite EVOKING THE DANK world of Dickensian melodrama, first-time director Andrei Kravchuk skilfully eschews the sentimentality that blights so many kids-in-peril stories.

Having learned that his mother may be alive, Kolya Spiridonov escapes Mariya Kuznetsova’s orphanage before she can sell him to an Italian couple, crosses Russia in the hope of a reunion and gets in a series of predictable scrapes, as Kuznetsova pursues the courageous moppet.

While the visuals are too handsome to attain a neo-realist authenticity, The Italian ably captures the post-democratic disillusionment that facilitates the older inmates’ Fagin-like criminal network.

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

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