Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Kolya (1996)

IMDb plot summary: Franta Louka is a concert cellist in Soviet-occupied Czechoslovakia, a confirmed bachelor and a lady's man. When he marries a Russian woman so that she can get her Czech papers, she emigrates to West Germany, to her lover; and leaves her five-year-old son with his grandmother; when the grandmother dies, Kolya must come and live with his stepfather - Louka. 
Directed by Jan Sverák. Starring Zdenek Sverák and Andrei Chalimon.

Some mild spoilers ahead.

Usually I am really, really opposed to "grizzled tough man has his heart warmed by children" movies, but this one is not bad at all. It neatly avoids all the traps by never being cloying, precocious, or saccharine. Instead, it's a tidy story of a normal child with a normal old man who start to kind of like each other. Even the bittersweet ending, which would be hyped up into a tear-jerking scene in any other movie, is handled in a way that is both subtle and true. Really nice work here. *This* is how you do a story like this. 4 stars.

Flickchart: #492 out of 1904, below Back to the Future Part III and above Army of Darkness.

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