Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. 90
    It's a carefully and almost classically balanced combination of ingredients, blending dirty-faced realism (so much more damning because it judges and condemns no one) with mystical fable of quest and homecoming.
  2. Earns its happy ending like few other contemporary dramas concerned with the fate of a child. It puts you through hell for that ending, in fact, hell being modern-day Russia.
  3. Vanya's journey to find his mom is not easy or picturesque or heartwarming. But it's also never without hope.
  4. Combining the influences of Italian neorealism with Dickensian melodrama, Andrei Kravchuk's simultaneously tough-minded and sentimental The Italian is as bracing as it is moving.
  5. I was utterly gripped by The Italian. The only problem is that I was rooting for the bad guys.
  6. There is something slightly magical about the lighting, almost as if this were a fantasy land from which Vanya might actually make an escape. This sense of unreality, of magical thinking and wishing, carries the story and Vanya through a remarkable journey.
  7. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    The Italian is an aesthetic gem, but a moral muddle.
  8. 75
    At heart, The Italian is a Dickensian tale that paints a vivid portrait of post-Glasnost Russia en route to a four-handkerchief ending.
  9. A powerful indictment of Russia's illegal adoption industry - and a story of pipsqueak resolve and resilience - The Italian is clear-eyed and tough in its depiction of a corrupt, atrophied social order.
  10. The result is a deeply moving experience, alternately funny and sad.
  11. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Equal parts "Oliver Twist" and "Pinocchio," Russian director Andrei Kravchuk's fictional hearttugger exposes a troubling real-life practice in contemporary Russia: the buying and selling of abandoned children to rich foreign couples.
  12. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    It's foreign, it's inspiring, it has an adorably resourceful kid; it depicts grinding misery in a land far from West Newton, and it holds out the possibility of clambering over all that misery to attain your dream.
  13. Reviewed by: Jason Anderson
    The Italian belongs in group of excellent recent Russian films -- most notably Andrei Zvyagintsev's "The Return" and Boris Khlebnikov and Aleksei Popogrebsky's "Roads to Koktebel" -- that have examined the effects of the country's woes on its youngest and most vulnerable citizens, as well as the problems faced by any child unfortunate enough to have faulty or absent parents. At its best, The Italian conveys this grave issue with admirable clarity and power.
  14. The result is a picture half sweet, half bitter. Charles Dickens would approve.
  15. It's a wish-fulfillment fantasy posing as hard-edged realism.
  16. It's an old-fashioned Soviet road movie, filled with kind souls of the otherwise desperate (and at times predatory) world.
  17. 75
    Before reaching a bittersweet finale that doesn't ring as loudly as it should, The Italian starts to look too much like a neo-realist "Home Alone" sequel, as Spiridonov outwits his pursuers in one scene after another.
  18. A remarkably compelling presence, Spiridonov commands attention without pandering or appealing to pity. In fact, for a 6-year-old, he is possessed of an uncanny poise.
  19. The film flirts frequently with sentimentality, falling for it heedlessly at a couple of crucial junctures. Still, the overall style is more astringent than moist, and the hero is a little toughie of endearing tenderness.
  20. May be derivative, but it's still engrossing, largely because of its appealing juvenile lead.
  21. 67
    Other than the unsatisfactory ending, however, there's much that is commendable in the The Italian, not the least of which are its social criticisms of the buying and selling of children through the adoption businesses currently thriving in Russia and neighboring eastern European countries. In some respects, unfortunately, not much has changed since the world was introduced to little Oliver Twist nearly two centuries ago.
  22. 67
    The juvenile performances are impressive, as they usually are in foreign films, and Spiridonov handles some grueling material with impressive maturity. But the movie comes undone with an abrupt and preposterous finale.
  23. There are too many familiar faces in this story, from kindhearted whores to street-urchin bullies. But even if circumstances edge toward the unlikely, Kravchuk and Spiridonov make an effective team, exploring the realities that lead to so much heartbreak for so many children.
  24. Reviewed by: Ethan Alter
    The depiction of everyday life at the orphanage is far more compelling than Vanya's personal quest. It's unfortunate that once the Italian hits the road, The Italian loses its way.
  25. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Lured, perhaps, by the promise of international markets, Kravchuk instead opts for routine uplift, and once the heroic journey is set in motion, the rest is ballast.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 7 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. ChadS.
    Mar 9, 2007
    There are two women in Kolya's life; Nataha(Polina Vorobieva) and Irka(Olga Shuvalova). Both are orphaned girls who were never adopted; There are two women in Kolya's life; Nataha(Polina Vorobieva) and Irka(Olga Shuvalova). Both are orphaned girls who were never adopted; the former is a young housefrau, and the latter is a whore. Nataha wants Vanya(Kolya Spiridonov) to leave with the Italian couple, but Irka believes it's more important to find his birth mother. "The Italian" asks the viewer to weigh the political against the personal. If you agree with Irka's decision to kidnap Vanya, their journey is deemed as a necessary one; an imperative to maintaining one's identity. Nataha, on the other hand, can be easily construed as the real hero, even though she's unseen once "The Italian" turns into a travelogue of bleak Russian landscapes. Nataha is a traitor of sorts, a benign cog in the machine that funnels kids out of the country, but she understands how ultra-leftist affect the welfare and potential happiness for a throwaway child. She understands that a child is not a national resource. At the end, Vanya's narration indicates what the filmmaker's beliefs are concerning the illegal adoption of Russian orphans in heartbreaking fashion. Full Review »
  2. DavidG.
    Mar 8, 2007
    A very touching movie, this tells the story of a young orphan, passed over by a family who has paid the corrupt head of the orphanage. For A very touching movie, this tells the story of a young orphan, passed over by a family who has paid the corrupt head of the orphanage. For once, a Russian movie that is not based on nationalistic fervour. Full Review »