Il ladro di bambini | Chicago Reader

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The Italian title of this lovely, rambling 1992 feature by Gianni Amelio (Open Doors), also known as Stolen Children, translates unidiomatically as “The Children Thief” and is undoubtedly meant to remind us of the 1948 film The Bicycle Thief. The “thief” in question is actually a young carabiniere officer (Enrico Lo Verso) based in Milan who's given the job of escorting an 11-year-old girl (Valentina Scalici) and her 10-year-old brother (Giuseppe Ieracitano) to a religious home after their mother is arrested for forcing the daughter into prostitution. When the home turns them away the officer has to take them to a reform school in Sicily, but he stalls, stopping off at his family home and finding other distractions en route. This was a big box-office hit in Italy and won the grand jury prize at the Cannes film festival, but the nice thing about it is that it doesn't shove its virtues in your face; it's made up of small discoveries and natural performances that raise as many questions about the characters as they answer.

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