Taking its title from our aforementioned protagonist, director Fredi M. Murer crafts a heartwarming slice of classic storytelling about the struggles of a young piano prodigy who just wants to be a normal kid. Played brilliantly by actual piano genius Teo Gheorghiu, Vitus succeeds in creating a highly accessible yet extremely unique character that we can relate to despite his differences in age and intelligence.

With a warm smile and charming accent, Murer explains that, while the film is not based directly on any true events or storyline, Vitus’s character is directly inspired by the his childhood.

Vitus was directly influenced by my childhood,” he says, “but it is completely different in that I always wanted to be a genius, but just ended up being terribly normal instead.”

The director goes on to explain that shooting Vitus in Europe proved to be a bit troublesome when it came to casting. The limited actor repertoire that Europe had to offer made it difficult to find a young person who could both act and play the piano.

Though just a beginner at acting, Gheorghiu does an incredible job portraying a struggling child in a refreshingly real way that strays from the highly Americanized “Dakota Fanning” mold that most kid actors have fallen into nowadays.

Gheorghiu is not the only source of excellent acting in the film, however, with the highlight actually being Vitus’s empathetic grandfather, played by Euro acting legend Bruno Ganz.

Though the film clocks in at a relatively par running time of 100 minutes, be warned that Vitus can be a bit slow, especially in the second act. What the film lacks in pure action and excitement is made up for fivefold with its motivating and compelling ending that echoes a surprising Rocky-esque tone of the little man getting his moment in the sun.

Fans in need of a bit of foreign refreshment in a summer of fantastic foursomes and robotic transformers need look no further than Vitus. It’s an intelligent, compelling and, dare I say, challenging film that can tantalize your mind as well as your ears in a season full of stories that offer nothing more than a reason to upgrade your popcorn to a larger size.

Grade: A-

—Zach Bourque Vitus releases in select theaters July 6.