The Gift to Stalin

Film
2 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

Discovered on a train bound for Stalin's relocation camps, a Jewish boy (Shintemirov) is saved by a kindly old Kazakh (Ikhtymbayev) who smuggles him out of harm's way. When he takes the lad back to his village---a melting-pot utopia of Eastern-European Christians, Asian Muslims and the Chosen People---the kid fixates on giving Russia's leader the perfect present in order to get his parents back. You'd almost think that this film was concocted via a Foreign Film for Dummies software program: ultra-sorrowful strings, caricatured villains, climactic sacrifices milked for maximum sentimentality, an if-I-only-knew-then voiceover. The historical tragedy that's dramatized is heartrending; the movie itself is merely one clich piled atop another.

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