In 2004, Harper’s magazine published Natasha, a first short story by a promising 31-year-old Jewish Canadian writer, David Bezmozgis. This memorable tale of a doomed teenage love between Mark, a Toronto slacker, and his troubled Russian cousin by marriage was eventually released in a collection chronicling the lives of a Latvian immigrant family, not unlike the author’s own. Bezmozgis’s debut became a cult sensation with critics drawing literary comparisons to Bernard Malamud and Philip Roth. The story was subsequently reprinted in 15 languages. After penning two more acclaimed novels, then writing and directing his first feature Victoria Day (SFJFF 2010), Bezmozgis finally brings his modern classic to the big screen in a remarkably assured adaptation that’s both highly provocative and deeply poignant. At the heart of this emotional, coming-of-age drama are the extraordinarily measured performances of Alex Ozerov as Mark and newcomer Sasha K. Gordon as the sexually precocious Natasha, the dark star who forever alters Mark’s staid, suburban existence. Fans of the writer’s original source material will not be disappointed in David Bezmozgis’s haunting narrative of forbidden love caught between the old world and the new, further proof of this talented artist’s notable command of both literature and the cinema. —Thomas Logoreci Note: Mature Content
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