Saturday, 3 December 2011

Kolya [1996]

As soon as I’d finished watching Kolya, two movies immediately sprung to my mind – Goodbye Lenin and 12:08 East of Bucharest. Though the three movies are distinctly different from each other, both tonally and basic storyline-wise, but there exists a common thread for all the three – that of a fictitious human story based on the backdrop of a massive political transitioning. The film has a rather simple plot – a womanizing middle-aged cellist (played by Zdenek Sverak, the director's father), who was formerly a part of the Czech Philharmonic but now somehow manages to make his two ends meet by playing at funerals, is suddenly forced to take care of a Russian kid courtesy a fake marriage to the boy’s mother followed by her defection. Though a reluctant guardian initially, he eventually starts deeply caring for the boy – so much so that he is even willing to risk imprisonment by escaping from the authorities policing everyone in the draconian regime. Some might feel a sense of “been there, seen that” on account of the familiar storyline, while others might find portrayal of the way it unfolds maudlin and a tad simplistic. However, this deeply humanistic movie didn’t fail to move me, so well has the growing bond between the two disparate characters been portrayed; the acting by the two protagonists are also noteworthy, especially by the cute little boy who played the role of the abandoned kid. And the political subtexts and subtle social commentary did add layers to the otherwise simplistic and familiar storyline. Unfortunately, the vital role that language plays in the story’s buildup might have been dimmed for a non-Czechoslovakian viewer like me.

Director: Jan Sverak
Genre: Drama
Language: Czech/Slovak/Russian
Country: Czech Republic


Sam Juliano said...

I agree that this isn't the masterpiece that some think it is (not remotely in fact) but it is still an affecting film that in many ways is irresistible (the ways you descibe here in fact). It's much like teh Swedish MY LIFE AS A DOG in that it diminishes over time as it's appeal is primarily on first viewing.

Terrific capsule as always.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks a lot Sam. Yes, I do agree with you on that - I too have the feeling that though I liked the movie on first viewing, my liking for it would only go down with time. I only hope it doesn't go down too fast :)