The Italian

Some of you have asked me to pay particular attention to foreign films available on DVD. This one is a dandy.

At least half of the action takes place in a Russian orphanage where you can see the dynamics of survival there. The children seem to be employed in various tasks, although the older girls seem to split child care, domestic chores and hooking equally. The older boys are the taskmasters. They do maintenance, run errands, and they have a thriving graft situation, extorting money from the younger children, although, truth be told, they are reasonably fair about it... Tough, but fair.

An attractive Italian couple has agreed to adopt a bright little six-year-old boy named Vanya, although during the waiting period while the onerous paperwork is being processed, the rest of the children begin to call him "Italian." Evidently the woman who has engineered the adoption has been advanced a generous finder's fee.

Vanya becomes convinced that he must find his birth mother before he is sent to Italy and is given a new name, as that would make him impossible to find if she ever changes her mind. This is a very determined, resourceful little boy!

The story is involving, the children are wonderful, and you have never seen any of the faces before, so you are convinced you are actually watching a real story unfold! (...although he does learn to read with amazing speed!)

I highly recommend it!

Note: I was unable to check this out of a library. Surely rental catalogs like Netflix and Blockbuster must carry it. This 2005 Russian film arrived in the U.S. in 2007.