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While he’s often impassive and expressionless, and this demonstrates his ability to get away with what he does, at those moments of fear and desperation we are truly there with him, fully understanding of the situation and his emotions within it.
He’s naturalistic and at ease just being a kid in front of the camera, but he gives a very detailed and emotionally layered performance.
Director Janis Nords mentioned that he looked at a thousand school kids to find the right boy for the part, and Kristofers Konovalovs is perfect in the role.
Having picked up the top prize in the ' K-Plus' section of the Berlinale's youth-oriented Generation section in February, it then went on to land the award for Best Narrative Feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June.
Nords had made international headlines for less happy reasons at the start of the current decade, when he was convicted of nonpayment for "goods and services" after cheekily exiting a string of fancy London restaurants without bothering to pay his bills.
The so-called "eat-and-run diner" now pens a sober, cautionary moral tale of how individuals must deal with the consequences of their actions, examining how a bright young lad can veer from mild naughtiness into more hazardous realms of misbehavior and crime, before the awakening of conscience and responsibility.
Raimonds (Konovalovs) lives in an ordinary Riga high-rise apartment with his mother Silvia (Vita Varpina), a doctor specializing in obstetrics and midwifery.
Not many films get made in Latvia every year, so the chance to see one is a rarity and with a film like “Mother, I Love You” (“Mammu, es Tevi milu”), it’s also a treat.
Directed by Janis Nords, the film tells a fairly simple story in a very sophisticated way, proving the too-often forgotten truth that with good cinematic storytelling any tale can be tense, suspenseful and emotional.
Since the film is in the vein of recent Czech variants (Olmo Omerzu), it can and should be programmed at a wide range of festivals, not just those focusing on the issues of adolescents.
And 29-year-old writer-director Janis Nords emerges as a talent to watch from a Baltic republic not renowned for its cinematic exports.
He scooters to school, plays saxophone in the band and plays Wii at home when his mother heads out late at night.
They coexist more like roommates than mother and son at times, even squabbling over laundry.
Vita Varpina as his mother gives an equally nuanced performance, switching between loving and threatening with a single look.