Vanya is a 6 year old orphan living in a rundown orphanage in a remote Russian village. For Vanya and the other children, life is without hope, unless, of course, they are adopted by wealthy foreigners. For Vanya, hope comes in the form of an Italian couple. But while arrangements are being made an incident occurs when the mother of another child appears, seeking her son. Vanya begins to wonder what would happen if his own mother reappeared, and he was living in Italy.With the assistance of older children, Vanya is able to access his records and find the possible whereabouts of his mother. He escapes and travels across the country, pursued by the adoption agents.Written by
Russia's Official Submission to the Best Foreign Language Film Category of the 78th Annual Academy Awards (2006) See more »
Heartwarming, enthralling, and believable.
This is one of the most satisfying films I've had the pleasure of watching in quite some time. Russian cinema is notable for its stark and unvarnished portrayal of life, and this piece is true-to-form. (Disney this ain't!) While it is very difficult to take in the conditions under which dozens of adorable, abandoned children must get along day-to-day in the grim confines of a Russian orphanage, it is absolutely enthralling to witness one little boy's fierce determination to find his true place in the world. Ostensibly this film was "inspired by true events" and while it is of course difficult to know just how much fact ultimately found its way into the screenplay, it's easy to imagine that the real-life orphan who boldly set off across-country in search of his birth mother must have had incredible strength-of-character, particularly for one so young. The producers did a wonderful job of balancing the elements of what could easily have become a rather depressing and hard-to-watch movie. The heavy tension of the boy's constant struggle against huge odds is beautifully broken up with little snippets of humor and compassion. With the exception of a single character who necessarily functions as the lightning-rod for the viewer's outrage, the antagonists are portrayed not as stereotypical villains, but as humans who are doing their best to eke out their survival in very difficult circumstances. Above all, we never forget that little Vanya -- tough and resourceful though he is -- is still a small and vulnerable child. Remarkably, never once during this film did I feel I was being served up anything contrived or absurd . . . in fact, at no time did I find it necessary to engage in the usual "suspension of disbelief" that so typifies the viewing experience for Hollywood films. While this movie will do little to entertain those who crave hormonally motivated plot-lines and adrenaline-charged action, it's definitely very worthwhile for drama-lovers in the 30+ crowd.
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