Natasha (PG) *** – By Shirl Hollenberg

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IMG_1897Dazed and Confused! Canada comes of age in the dramatic Natasha. Smart and saavy, this Mongrel Media Release is hot to trot at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas.

Coming of age tales are a dime a dozen. One class is The Summer of 42, a budding romance tale was young love at its finest. Consider a dark side of love to surface in Natasha. Here love and lust mixes with immigration woes as we track the plight of a couple of Russian immigrants to, of all places, Hogtown (Toronto).

Life is good for an upwardly mobile family of Jewish Russian immigrants. When a wedding of convenience happens in Toronto, a 14-year-old daughter named Natasha is supposed to blend in but family issues put her on a collision course. Able to turn heads as the aloof newcomer is Sarah K. Gordon. Given a loner attitude and sordid detachment, the young lass harbours ill will to all and a host of issues. So what a surprise it is when cousin Mark comes a-calling. Young, street smart, and not initially fond of his show, Canada hospitality to a foreigner is Alex Oserov, equally street smart at 16.

Together, these kids make a strange couple. Things heat up and the temperatures rise as loyalty, old style traditions and raging hormones boil to the surface. Uniform good acting and solid direction by David Bezmozgis gives Natasha lots of oomph.