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Kolja
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Reviews & Ratings for
Kolya More at IMDbPro »Kolja (original title)

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52 out of 57 people found the following review useful:

It's even better if you understand Czech

10/10
Author: capekmira (capekmira@centrum.cz) from Hradec Kralove, Czech Rep.
15 October 2004

I like this movie very much and I am glad to read that most of you like it too. However, some comments here describe it as predictable and having the funny parts far from one another. It is not true. There are two more things that you cannot appreciate: 1) The background. I am a Czech myself and I remember the times which the film speaks about. There are many little details that probably come and go unnoticed for the foreigner eye but each of them is a symbol - it carries meaning that is so obvious for a Czech viewer. 2) The language is FUNNY! Sverak (the author) is a well known writer here. He is a GENIUS with the language, it's full of sweet little word puns that can never be translated into another language. You can translate the data, the information - but you lose the atmosphere. Believe me, even in the parts that look boring, there is something hidden between the lines - it's either funny, emotional, powerful... There is another great thing with playing with the differences between Czech and Russian. The languages are similar (to some extend) but there are differences that can result in misunderstandings - and they use it in the movie too. Czech people used to learn Russian language at schools so they can appreciate it.

I am so sorry that there is no way that you could enjoy even these parts of the movie. (Unless you'd want to learn Czech of course :-)

Just please, please, bear in mind that this is not just a shallow romantic movie. Yes, it is lovely - but there is more than that.

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35 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Heart-Warming, Charming Film

9/10
Author: gbheron from Washington, DC
16 December 2000

Set in the twilight of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia, we find Louka, a 55-year old confirmed bachelor, blacklisted concert cellist, and womanizer, struggling to make ends meet. He's slipping further into poverty when he agrees to participate in a scam to save a Russian woman from deportation…by marrying her. She promptly flees to the West, leaving Louka with her 5 year old, Russian-speaking son, Kolya. Predictable, with Disneyesque warmth, "Kolya" is still a very effective movie. Well directed and acted it does not rush Louka's slow realization of his capacity to love, pried out by his young, innocent ward. Setting the story against the backdrop of the approaching Velvet Revolution emphasizes Louka's spiritual growth. As good as this movie is, I'm surprised how poorly it is perceived by IMDb's younger viewers. It deserved its Academy Award and deserves a rental.

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30 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Magical performances in a touching film

9/10
Author: Floop1977 from London, England
19 April 1999

Take the old formula of two mismatched people being forced to live together, and rejuvenate it by losing the cliches and adding excellent script and direction, and utterly superb acting by all the cast, especially the two leads (the grouch and the boy). The characterisations are just spot on.

Whenever I see films like this I end up both very glad to have seen such an outstanding movie, and extremely irritated that practically no-one knows about this gem of a movie, yet films like 'Godzilla' rake in money.

My thanks to all involved with this movie; you have produced a work of art.

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28 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Excellent film

10/10
Author: CBW-2 from Dallas, Texas
13 August 2000

I did not think this film was at all sentimental (if you are using the word in its pejorative sense). In reading the comments on this film, I noticed the Czechs who responded were rather lukewarm about it. This surprises me. Kolya works as a film on several levels at once -- political, artistic, personal, etc. and I do not think it is at all predictable. The performances are magical and the entire film is encased by music of very great beauty and humanity by Dvorak and other great Czech composers. Music from Dvorak's "Four Biblical Songs" is at the heart of the film. It is the song that Klara sings at the funerals and the song Kolya is singing before and during the closing credits. The vintage film footage of Kubelik conducting Smetana's Ma Vlast at a concert at the end of the Russian occupation is a wonderful touch. Although I'm sure many other Czech films deserve Oscars, I am glad Kolya was recognized. I hope this film is released on DVD soon.

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22 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Magic!

10/10
Author: Susan Thrasher from New Zealand
14 October 1998

I saw Kolya at the cinema during the film festival here in 1997, and recently rented the video so the rest of my family could see it. The ending may be rather predictable, but the characterization is just magic. Best scenes: Kolya's funeral for the puppet, and the lump-in-the-throat moment when Kolya tries to call his babushka in the bathtub. Give that kid another acting job! A beautiful film. Even if you don't generally watch subtitled films, this one's worth it. My family and I all agree--this is a 10/10 film. They don't come any better.

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21 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Great acting!!

Author: Lara Pastor from Provo, UT
12 August 2004

I watched this film last night on a open air cinema in Sundance and absolutely loved it!! The story is pretty simple and not very original, yet the film manages to be unique!! (it is very similar to the film Ponnette) But what I considered to be the best part of this movie was the little boy's performance. The kid is just the best kid actor I have seen in a long while. His acting not only is fabulous but REALLY touching and convincing.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone that wants to see a well made European movie that can make you laugh and cry at the same time.

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A beautiful film

Author: Dan Harkless from United States
11 September 2002

I've seen a number of U.S. movies filmed in Czechoslovakia, but this is the first Czech film I've seen. Seeing this makes me understand how Czechoslovakia could have a fairly booming film industry.

This movie came on on cable network IFC and it first grabbed my attention because I didn't recognize what language the characters were speaking. Within a couple of minutes, however, the movie itself had hooked me, though it's not the type of story I'd usually seek out. Indeed I was late to work and really wanted to get going, but I was unable to tear myself away.

Beyond the great writing, acting, and directing, this film has some truly amazing cinematography. There are occasions where the filmmakers seem to have commanded the universe around them to get these shots. In one scene, the lead character looks up through his car's windshield as he's driving, and in perfect synchronization the reflection of the airliner he was looking at passes across the windshield. Even more amazing was the shot from well up in the air, with the lead characters' car driving up the road, a train going up a track in parallel to them, and a hawk (or eagle?) hovering right in front of the camera and then diving off to the side -- and they got this shot right at "magic hour". In Hollywood CGI surely would have been used to coordinate this ballet of elements.

There were also many shots incorporating wonderfully poetic imagery. One of my favorites was the lead character staring into the reflective doors at the airport which close and reveal him to himself, standing there utterly alone.

One more comment -- another reviewer called the ending "predictable", but I'd have to disagree. I really didn't know where the movie would end up, and in fact it was portrayed so subtly that I had to rewind the final scene to be sure what had happened, and then go back and re-watch a prior scene that contained a seemingly throwaway line that bears on the ending.

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

A Thoughtful, Luminous Film

9/10
Author: gws-2 from United States
13 August 2001

What is a man to do who has resisted marriage until late middle age but then enters into a fraudulent marriage of convenience and ends up solely responsible for a five year old in the bargain? That is Franta Louka's dilemma in this beautiful film.

Louka, played by Zdenek Sverak who also wrote the screenplay, is a onetime philharmonic cellist who has lost his orchestra job because the Soviet era Czech communist powers-that-be deem him unreliable. As a consequence Louka has been reduced to playing at weddings and funerals and re-gilding cemetery tombstones. He has no car and is deeply in debt. In order to finance a car and reduce his debt Louka lets a coworker from the cemetery convince him to marry a Russian woman so that she can emigrate to the West. Louka reluctantly agrees and married the woman but the Russian decamps. This ultimately results in Louka becoming solely responsible for the woman's five year old boy -- who only speaks Russian.

Louka and the little boy's relationship is both believable and moving. "Kolya" is very nearly a great film. Highly, highly recommended. 9 out of 10.

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

tender. loving. amazing.

9/10
Author: Naomi Kjensli from oslo, norway
25 August 1999

Kolya combines a big, pulsating heart with a wide range of visual creativity. It is touching, it will make you weep. But the tears that you shed aren't cheap. They don't flow from your eyes because of average schmaltz. This is a genuine masterpiece full of emotions, and Sverak has a fingerspitzen-gefühl that makes him a master filmmaker.

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12 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A good Czech film--but there are better ones

7/10
Author: Jugu Abraham (jugu_abraham@yahoo.co.uk) from Trivandrum, Kerala, India
23 April 2006

I am neither Czech nor European. I grew up appreciating the fine Czech cinema of Milos Forman, Jan Kadar and Jiri Menzel. While "Kolya" is refreshing compared to American standards, it lacks the maturity of say Kadar's "Lies my father told me" (Golden Globe winner for best foreign film in 1976) made in Canada—a film in English with a Czech heart and soul or Forman's "Loves of a blonde" (also about music and musicians).

Czech cinema gives a lot of importance to classical Western music. In "Kolya," the emphasis is on Dvorak's Biblical songs—"The Lord is my shepherd" being one. The film might not appear to be religious but interestingly many of Czech filmmakers seem to use religion without making it obvious. (In neighboring Poland, Kieslowski loved to do this to the extent that he made a series of 10 films called "Dekalog" linked to the Ten Commandments.) In the film the child inexplicably swears "Jesus Christ" in Russian. The underlying analogy of a child redeeming the life of wayward adults with no purpose in life is not a surprising turn for east European directors who couch religion in non-religious ambiance. Is it a coincidence that church steeples are visible from the windows and crosses are drawn by a child? As a film, this is at best a good Czech film--nothing more. There have been better Czech films unknown to American and West European audiences.

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