The movie, "Siberian Education," is set in Trans-Dniester, now a separatist republic between Moldova and Ukraine, though filming of the U.S.-Italian production took place in Lithuania and wrapped up this week.
Malkovich plays Kuzja, an old recividist exiled to Trans-Dniester along with numerous other ex-convicts by Soviet authorities in the waning years of the Soviet Union. Kuzja tries to teach his grandson Kolyma - the film's main protagonist, played by Lithuanian actor Arnas Fedaravicius - the arcane rules of "criminal morals."
"It is an interesting story about the way of life that most of audience would not know about," Malkovich said Friday before leaving Lithuania. "Things are so much global and Americanized. It's interesting to think of that kind of (criminal) culture that the film addresses is kind of becoming extinct."
"I found this experience delightful," he added.
The film is based on a memoir by Nicolai Linin, also called "Siberian Education," that was critically acclaimed for its portrayal of childhood innocence amid a community of violent men who romanticize their criminal life.
Malkovich, 57, praised Italian director Gabriele Salvatores for balancing his instincts with those of the actors.
"It is certain that Gabriele has terrific balance between knowing what he wants and being willing to be surprised. That's not the easiest balance to have, but I think better directors have that," he said.
"I think directing is a terrible job. It's an awful lot of pressure, and I think the part the actor should bring is to give your best performance, your best opinion, but to bring something to work instead of making the director always tell you what to do," Malkovich said.
"As a director I find that very tiresome," he added.