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1 item from 2006


14 November 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Vitusfilm in collaboration with Hugofilm & FMM

Although a tad sentimental, "Vitus" is charming and smart in how it deals with its fascinating central character, a very young child prodigy, and the problems he experiences because of his overheated brain power. The film certainly would play well in upscale North American specialty venues. And as Switzerland's entry in the foreign-language Oscar derby, it could land a nomination because the Academy committee loves films about grandfathers and grandchildren.

Vitus is a wunderkind who reads books at age 5, calculates math in his head and plays the piano like a virtuoso. Two rather remarkable children play this character -- 6-year-old Fabrizio Borsani and 12-year-old Teo Gheorghiu, both amazing pianists and good actors to boot.

Vitus' parents (Julika Jenkins and Urs Jucker) are thrilled by their son's astonishing abilities. They see a bright future for him as a musician. In the mother's case, she might be counting on it too much.

Vitus, though, is often unhappy and even downright cheeky as school fails to challenge him. What he most desperately wants is to be "normal." He sometimes accomplishes this by hanging out with his cheerful, eccentric grandfather (the great Swiss actor Bruno Ganz), who loves to tinker in his workshop building flying machines. Then one day, using a flying machine, Vitus takes the leap that will allow him to take control of his life.

Written by Peter Luisi, Fredi M. Murer and Lukas B. Suter and directed by Murer, "Vitus" ably mixes the comic and dramatic situations arising from this story.

A fine cast, even in smaller roles, is alert to all the subtle possibilities in the intriguing story. And the third act is a doozy with a great payoff involving the boy and his granddad. Yet the central attraction is Vitus himself, a wonderful, often quite funny character to be around.


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