Poor 16-year-old Mark Berman. He is given the assignment by his parents to help orient a newcomer to the Toronto area’s Russian-Jewish population, 14-year-old Natasha. Her mother Zina arrives for an arranged marriage with Mark’s grand uncle Fima. Mark doesn’t know what he is in for.

Natasha, played sexily by Sasha K. Gordon, is a real piece of work. A much older man than Mark would have trouble handling her. Natasha is angry at her mother for uprooting her in Moscow and taking her to Canada. She has a sexually charged past and makes no bones about talking about it and she is open about enjoying casual sex.

Mark, portrayed by Alex Ozerov, who learns that Natasha had made porn films and has a trail of sexual experience in Russia, is both shocked and titillated. Even for a boy who delivers drugs and has a drug dealer as his role model, Mark is disoriented by Natasha.

But as one might expect, the assignment turns into a romance. This is set against the background of the problems the older characters are having and the existence of the immigrant community.

One might describe the film as a coming of age story, but this is unlike most stories in the category, both because of the ethnicity involved and the sexual aspect. There is more to Natasha than her flaunting of her sexual experience. Beneath the surface beats the heart of a girl who wants more out of life.

“Natasha” has been written and directed by David Bezmozgis based on his book. It is a film full of detail and observations about the characters populating the story. We see different generations depicted, but the adults are really the background to the story about youth as expressed by Natasha and Mark, who are excellently portrayed. A Menemsha Films release. Reviewed April 28, 2017.

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