The 1997 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award-winning film ‘Kolya’ tells the tale of a middle-aged cellist and a 6-year-old boy. The film is directed by Jan Sverak and written by his father Zdenek Sverak, who also plays the character Louka.
At the beginning of the film, we are introduced to Cellist Louka and a womaniser, who once performed with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, and now plays at funeral services in Prague. It is 1989 and the Russians are occupying the City.
Louka needs money and to pay off his financial debts, he reluctantly agrees to an arranged marriage with a Russian woman who requires Czech papers. However, things don’t go as planned. The cellist is left caring for the bride’s five-year-old son Kolya (played by Andrej Chalimon) when she leaves to go be with her lover in Germany.
The film’s plot revolves around how the young Russian and the elderly Czech man adjust to get along with one another. The age, racial, and language divides between the middle-aged man and the young boy pose a problem. However, Kolya gradually wins Louka over. The bachelor grows into a caring man.
The story skillfully contrasts the situation of the once-welcome Russians being expelled from Czechoslovakia with the growing bond between the Czech bachelor and the abandoned Russian boy, with politics serving as a solid foundation and framework for the story.
Andrej Chalimon, who plays young Kolya, gives a brilliant performance. He appears to be a depressed child and does not trust Louka initially. You want to comfort him because of how his feelings are depicted on his face. As a man unsure of what to do with the child, Louka (played by Zdenek Sverak) also puts up an excellent performance. While trying to feed the kid, Louka tries to have a conversation with Kolya. He asks him various questions, but only receives harsh silence in response. However, what starts as uneasy on both sides develops into a lovely relationship with time. But what awaits next is something unexpected and unavoidable.
When it comes to cinematography, it is an absolute delight to watch each scene. Though the pace of the film is a bit slow, it gives you a sense of what lies ahead. Detailing is something that stands out throughout the film. Viewers get a glimpse of the Communist Czech, pensioners’ life, the country roads, the Soviet army and the subdued but determined revolt against communist ideals.
The dialogue is excellent and it should be noticed that there isn’t much of a plot in Kolya. However, the bond between the two characters, who have overcome all barriers of age, area, politics, and culture, is what truly defines the film as a worthy Oscar winner. There are beautiful scenes in Kolya that will leave you in awe and tears. The movie essentially teaches you that if people with such diverse backgrounds can get along, then anyone can.