Young Oksana puts her newly born Denis in a baby box. Sixteen years later she steals him away from a children's home, intent on making amends for her maternal neglect, and to exploit him to earn money in a corrupt legal system.
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Ivan I. Tverdovskiy
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Sixteen years ago left posted her newborn son Denis through a baby-hatch of an orphanage where he has lived ever since, handicapped by a rare disease, congenital analgesia, which affects his ability to feel physical pain, and needs to be medically controlled. Today, forbidden from taking care of her son, she tricks the orphanage staff, literally kidnapping and taking him to her home in Moscow. It soon emerges that her motive is anything but motherly. Because he does not feel any pain when injured, now he is trained to jump on cars so his mother's friends can extort cash from the driver. First in line is Denis' 'instructor' policeman Pasha, who drives a police vehicle alongside the one earmarked for the 'accident', and is first on the scene when Denis lays motionless on the ground. Pasha's mother, Natalia is a doctor at the hospital where Denis is taken by an ambulance crew (also on the make). But the most profitable jobs go to Judge Olga and the bribed defense lawyer. The driver is ...Written by
Lacking ability to feel pain but needs love in a corrupt system
16-year-old Denis (Denis Vlasenko) has a kind of superhero-ability. He has congenital analgesia, a rare condition in which he feels no pain. As an infant, he was put in a baby hatch at an orphanage, by mother Oksana, which now 16 years later comes back to steal him out to exploit his abilities.
Just like his las year's movie "Loveless," Tverdovsky's cynical contemporary Russian story gives a portrait with parenting sneaking in a portion of pervasive corruption and lack of moral abilities.
We learn about his ability among his boarding-school comrades who often wrap him hard in a rubber hose and squeeze him to see how long he can take the pressure before fainting, as the director implies that such numbness is practically universal for those raised in a system like this. Either it is an orphanage like this or it's Putin-Russia as a whole.
At first, Denis is delighted to escape the orphanage and thrilled to get his own room, gorging on 16 years' worth of belated birthday cake when they get to Oksana's flat, although he soon learns the cost of staying there are high and possibly fatal.
The film is beautyfully shot by Denis Alarcon-Ramirez in beautifully lit long-take sequences. Direction is flawless, and main character Denis is a find in his role. Except when Denis plays the hose game, the kids on either side are clearly only pretending to pull, while Denis Vlasenko merely looks like this is a strain at all.
I very much liked the film, though I don't think it'll meet the director's intentions. Director Tverdovsky probably wants this to be a wake-up call, although the final part of the movie is heartfelt, it's hard to deliver - since Denis is an expendable kid in a system obviously too rotten to reform.
So the film is good, but no masterpiece.
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