Much like the Iranian films The White Balloon
and The Children of Heaven
, this story focuses on the emotional life and inherent dangers of being very young. Six-year-old Vanya lives in a dilapidated orphanage in dilapidated Russia. When an Italian couple visits and decides to adopt him, he becomes frightened and runs away, creating a harrowing adventure that captures the tension and terror of being a tiny person in a world he knows little about. Its sort of like watching George W. Bush at a press conference, if he were 3 feet tall. Sadly, theres a very slow middle third, but beyond that, the grimy, grainy cinematography and deeply felt acting make a strong case for this film. Plus, its Russian, and if the Russians cant make a good movie, then we might as well all buy Disney T-shirts and sing American Idol
songs while shaving our heads and checking into rehab.