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By Matt Singer

IFC News

[Photo: “Vitus,” Sony Pictures Classics, 2007]

The movies are filled with adolescent fantasies — sometimes, particularly during the summer, it seems the movies are only adolescent fantasies — but rarely with pre-pubescent ones, particularly those that do not involve animated talking animals. The reason, I suspect, is as much biological as anything else. It is much easier to remember yourself at age 18 than at age 12. The creators of the marvelous little film “Vitus” are as in touch with this inner tween as any filmmakers have ever been. If I’m as in touch with my inner tween as they are with theirs, I think I can say that children of that age would adore this movie, if only they’d get the opportunity to see it. I regret that many will not.

The official Swiss selection for the 2006 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award, and the winner of that country’s top cinematic prize, “Vitus” concerns a remarkably gifted young boy blessed with an incredible intellect and a preternatural ability for the piano. We first see him as a precocious six-year-old (played with a maturity beyond his years by Fabrizio Borsani), then later as that crucial 12-year old (an even better Teo Gheorghiu). Young Vitus is so smart he can’t really be taught, by teachers or by anyone else, and his parents, feeling the weight of responsibility that comes with having a “gifted” child, yank him out of school and let him concentrate on becoming a great piano virtuoso.

Vitus doesn’t dislike playing piano — who would, if they were that good at it? — but he also yearns for something resembling a normal childhood. At age 12, Vitus has surpassed his older high school classmates and his parents are pressuring him to decide what to do with the rest of his life. It is here that director Fredi M. Murer and his co-writers Peter Luisi and Lukas B. Suter begin to display their innate knowledge of childhood psychology: of those twin desires to both belong and to stand out; of the fascination with women without the accompanying physical capability to act upon it; of the desire to do all of those things you’re “not old enough” for without losing those things that make being a kid great.

“Vitus” has all of this in a package that is funny and sweet but never maudlin. Gheorghiu is not only a gifted child actor but a piano player in his own right, and the movie puts his talents to great use in several astounding sequences. Children would love his performance, along with pretty much everything else about this movie, but getting them to actually see it seems a difficult proposition. Aside from the obvious language barrier (let’s face it — even adults with reasonable attention spans complain about subtitled movies), movies like “Vitus,” European productions with arty pedigrees, get small releases and are marketed to and seen by a much older audience. Let us hope that audiences can still connect with their inner 12-year-old, and then bring the real 12-year-olds they know to see “Vitus” for themselves.

“Vitus” opens in limited release on June 29th (official site).

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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