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

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16 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

A great film but not for Americans

Author: Rakef from Brno, Czech Republic
12 December 2000

Kolya is a great film which was filmed in 1996 by Jan Sverák, the son of the actor, director and screenwriter Zdenek Sverák who played the main character in this film. We can see a great deal of work done by Zdenek Sverák who is a great director. Despite the fact that even american consultants were involved in the film in order to make Kolya understandable even for the Americans, I do not think that Americans could understand it in as properly as we Czechs do. It is also very much the "games with language", which is based on the similarity btw. Czech and Russian, which makes the film very difficult for the Americans to understand. Another factor is the plot which a non-Czech does not understand if he or she does not know about the historical background. So I would recommend the following. Read something about the period of the Czech history btw. 1968 and 1989 and then watch the movie. It´s great!

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

"We measure time in funerals..."

7/10
Author: poe426 from USA
11 October 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For a lecherous old man who fairly wallows in his own lechery, who "fiddles at funerals" and touches up tombstones, the introduction of a wife (however temporary) and a step-son who doesn't even speak the same language proves most inconvenient. As it no doubt would for most of us. The political schism only makes things worse. "Where you Russians march," he tells his young charge, "you stay." It's a statement (especially when made to so young a child) that's as harsh as it is funny. It's learning to communicate (and to love) that ultimately matters. Differences (especially in ideologies) are, in the final analysis, insignificant. Early on in the film, driving past a trio of young women he is ogling, the boy's unsuspecting, yet-to-be step-father doesn't bother to turn to look at their faces as he passes. His companion does, and remarks that their fronts don't hold up to their backs. "I didn't look back," the old man says: "So, for me, they'll be beautiful forever." In his dealings with the boy, KOLYA, he learns to look beyond the superficial- and, in the end, can't help but look back.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Piece Of Cake

7/10
Author: SelvarajanK from India
2 April 2006

Kolya, they story was very simple, and has emotion in the right content. The characters didn't over play, the little boy was excellent, specially the scene where he talks in the bathtub to his his grandma over the phone was heart pounding. He was so matured for his age, only few come to my mind doing something like this. The locations was great, the way certain shorts were taken was absolutely beautiful. The music in the film is good, and i like the way the comedy was placed through the movie. I have to admit that i don't know the language, i managed it with the subtitle but still the movie was hilarious. I really kicked my self for not knowing more language to feel certain films like this.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Holy Crap!!! What a wonderful movie!!!

10/10
Author: hugh jass from Switzerland
1 July 2005

THis movie is great! all of the actors should be frozen to be kept alive, it such a great story. It's about a playboy who gets stuck with a four year old boy for two weeks. in the beginning the only time they interacted was when they slept in the same bed, but by the end they couldn't be separated. if you've consider seeing this movie, you should!!!!!!! it is incredible!!!! it has such emotion, when it was over i just sat there for two hours, just thinking and sometimes crying, but golly gee it is so great. i can't believe anyone could not enjoy this. even satin himself would have to take his pitchfork out of someones heart and sit down and think about the values of this movie. it is so good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! it truly deserves all of those exclamation points.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Touching story with political commentary

8/10
Author: bandw from Boulder, CO
28 June 2008

This is a variation on the theme of an older man whose emotional life is reawakened by his being thrust into unexpected parenting of a young child. Many have complained of the exploitation of such time-worn subject matter, but the worth of "Kolya" lies in the particulars of how its themes are developed. After all there are still good movies made about underdog sports teams prevailing, and even the exact same material (thinking Shakespeare here) can be made fresh through different productions.

The man in question here is Frantisek Louka, the place is the Czech Republic, and the time is 1988 (just prior to the "Velvet Revolution"). Financial constraints tempt Louka to enter into a bargain to marry a Russian woman so she can get Czech citizenship and, it turns out, escape to West Germany to be with her lover. This leaves Louka to care for the child "Kolya." One thing that makes this movie stand out is the quality of the acting by all involved. In particular Andrei Chalimon as the Russian child is very natural and will win your heart as he does Louka's. But it's a slow process.

Another thing that sets this off is the political backdrop. I knew about Russia's occupation of the Czech Republic after World War II and the non-violent overthrow of the Communist government in 1989, but that is about as far as my knowledge went. This movie portrays what it was like to live in that environment in a concrete way that a history book cannot. A lot of little scenes exemplify the underlying tensions, such as Louka's being expected to display both the Czech and Russian flags in his window, Louka's mother refusing to let some Russian soldiers in to wash their hands by lying about her having no water, and Louka's purposeful refusal to learn the Russian language. So, this movie provided a small increment in my knowledge of Czech history and that's better than nothing. How the political situation drives the action makes for a singularly interesting story.

The musical score that contains works by the Czech composers Dvořák, Suk, Fibich, and Smetana adds a special quality.

Don't be turned away from seeing this because it touches on familiar themes; it is a quality film with unique characteristics.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Will rip your heart out.

8/10
Author: lastliberal from United States
20 December 2007

Who knows what you will do when your back is against the wall? Survival makes you do some things that you would never try. In this case Louka (Zdenek Sverák), a confirmed bachelor, marries a Russian woman to get her Czech papers and to get him some money to buy a car and fix his house and pay some debts.

As soon as they marry, she heads to Germany. her son, Kolja (Andrei Chalimon), a little five-year-old, ends up with Louka, who soon finds that he is bonding with the boy.

It is a beautifully touching story with some outstanding performances by the two leads and Libuse Safránková as Klara.

It is fascinating that star and writer of the screenplay is also the father of the director. I cannot imagine how that worker, but I bet it was interesting at times.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Excellent!! deserved its Acad. Awards - compelling w/narratives at 3 levels

9/10
Author: Bob Pr. from Topeka, KS
3 August 2006

From another user comment, I gather that this film is packed with humor and references that will only be apparent to those familiar with Czech language and history.

Despite that, to me it was an eminently satisfying film.

There are three inter-related, connecting narratives, all intensely interesting, that propel the film and our attention.

One is that this largely captures the time just before the revolution against Soviet occupation. It delineates very well what it was like to live within an occupied state with foreign rules and prohibitions. Among them, the way some people do (or do not) ally themselves to the foreign presence and support it for their own profit as well as quickly give it up when that's no longer profitable. And a little of what it was like in the transition to greater freedom.

Another narrative deals with the life and times of a bachelor professional musician, a cellist, who long ago had to decide between having a family OR being a serious professional musician. He chose the latter route. Since that did not require him to be celibate, he developed excellent seductive skills which were perhaps near the level of his musicianship. His caring for Kolja changes him.

The third major narrative to develop is the experience of Kolja, the eponymous subject of the film. He is the child of a single mother, Russian, who is determined to emigrate across the Iron Curtain. As a Russian she cannot. BUT, if she marries a Czech, she can. Due to a realistic but complex series of events, Kolja cannot accompany her.

The film deals with trying to accomplish that and its aftermaths and consequences.

I thought "Kolja" did a good job of showing SOME of the pain that a child -- separated from biological father, biological mother, biological grandmother, etc. -- would feel and what reactions would occur. But I'm a retired PhD psychologist who worked with scores of children in circumstances somewhat analogous to Kolja's. MY experience is that children placed in Kolja's place would almost always have far more destructive, harder to handle, reactions than Kolja did in the movie. I think it's understandable that Kolja was presented as NOT having those so intensely.

This movie would have been rated by me a "10" if only they could have accomplished that but -- to do that, an entirely different movie would have to have been made. But, as it is, it shows the power of a relationship to transform those in it, of his developing love for the child humanizing the musician.

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

enchanted by this movie

Author: ematerso from new england
21 December 2004

my husband and I watched a video of this movie the other night and were enthralled, touched and charmed. Previously I think I had overlooked it with the impression that it might be too saccharine. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many have written on this forum that it is not the best of this writers work or that one can not truly understand it unless one is Czech. Sorry, I am American and can only view it from that perspective. I thought the acting was wonderful. The story, not contrived as some people have said comparing it to Three Men and a Baby and Heidi (and I might add Silas Marner!) I found totally believable. After all how many stories are there in the human experience? The child was a wonderful actor, all the characters were likable and understandable. Also as non-Czechs we welcomed seeing what life, under an occupying, totalitarian force is like. Unbearable Lightness of Being also gave this gut wrenching impression of being occupied but I'm sorry and can't remember if that was Hungary or Czechloslovakia. We will definitely look out for more films by this director or films from other Slavic countries. Oh, also liked seeing Prague. Is that the city in one of the segments from Aria with the beautiful sculpture?

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Emotional it is!

10/10
Author: kmejden from Sweden
11 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just watched this film for the sixth or seventh time and I ended, as always with tears running down my cheeks. It is astonishing how all the bad comments here, are almost exclusively posted by Czech people and, the strongest argument of almost everyone, is that there are other better Czech films out there; most of them referring to the New Wave of the 60's and 70's. Furthermore what is very interesting is that most of the people that have posted their critique, whether it is good or bad, mention the fact that it won the Oscar. For you who don't like the film and state that there were better films, if they were Czech films in the past, or that the other films that were nominated the same year were in fact better, you contradict yourselves since most of you acknowledge, just as I do, that the Oscars are just a waste of space and time but, at the same time you state that another movie was so much more worthy of the price. Everyone knows that the Oscars are all about political correctness and praising movies that treat subjects that are hot, or just on the agenda, for the moment. However, not any too deep or too subversive subjects are welcome; the most important issue is still selling the movie, so no real surprises can be accepted. And the fact that the movie takes place in a communist, Warsaw-treaty country, just when the wall is about to fall down, and the whole communist project with it, is definitely the main reason for why it won the Oscar. Anyway...if we just disregard of any external factors when looking at this movie, I can't really see how anyone can dislike it. I have to say, I am not Czech born, but I am Swedish born with a Czech mother and a Slovak father, and my knowledge of the Czech and Slovak languages is quite good. I understand most of what I hear but I don't speak very well. But, even for me, I realize that so much of this movie is lost if you don't know the language, the history, the culture etc. of Czech, Slovak, Russian or any of the central European countries. I laugh and cry throughout the whole movie, but maybe it has to do with my incomplete knowledge of the language and, the fact that I have a very nostalgic approach towards this movie or much of the Czech or Slovak movies I see.

Yes I agree, that there are some banal elements in the film and that the creators may have consulted various Hollywood people in order to make it more fathomable and appealing to the US market.

However....the movie is not boring, it is not overly melodramatic, and since it doesn't pretend to make any deeper comments or analysis on how it was to live under authoritarian communist rule, it is merely making minor humoristic observations on some of the absurdities in the day to day life that emerged within such a society. And also, may it be cliché and banal, that we are all people and that no one wanted what had become of the Communist Party apparatus and its since long lost global socialist revolution, whether it be Russian, Czech, Slovak or any other of the included. I am not saying that what replaced it was some kind of salvation, but at least, people are free to think and act. Most of the comments from Americans here in IMDb are very naive and quite hollow, especially when it comes to these Oscar-winning, real life political movies. If you go and look at the comments about the movie "Hotel Rwanda" for example, there is a huge amount of people, almost exclusively US citizens, who have given it 10 out of 10, and many state that the movie has "opened there eyes", or "made them reevaluate the meaning of life". I myself think it is a horrible movie, with it sole purpose to clean the conscience of the western world and the entertainment industry. The extremely complex and intricate historical and political aspects of the conflict were hardly mentioned, and the only emotions that it wanted to awake in the viewer, was guilt and pity. I am sorry for straying from the subject here, but I just wanted to somehow, even though I am aware that it has been done kind of vaguely, make my point which is that a movie doesn't have to dig as deep as it can, if that is not its aim. The story in Kolya is quite ordinary, but what is important is that to love and care for those who are in need of it, is not absent in any of us (obviously with the exception of sociopaths, and those who suffer from various mental disorders). And that is what, may it be at sometimes too obvious and cliché, the two Sveraks have accomplished. And obviously the little boy is such a big part of the whole feeling, he is absolutely brilliant. He breaks my heart every time I watch the scenes of when his spirit, albeit a very strong one, brakes down. And to you, I think you were a Brit, that thought the movie was too sentimental, and that the scene where Kolya tries to ring his Babushka in the bathtub, was ridiculous; I just wonder, where is your heart? A little boy losing his whole foundation just like that, having to live with a strange man in a strange place where (almost) no one understands you, even though his spirit is strong, suddenly breaking down and calling for his grandmother.... I thought that scene was very emotional, and that is what is the strength of the whole movie, meaning that it never tries to play on the pity of us viewers. Kolya almost never whines or cries but, when he does it's because he really can't take it anymore.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Could this possibly be the cutest thing ever made?

9/10
Author: dead_parrot from Canada
7 December 2003

All I can say about "Kolya" is: nice. Very nice. This is sort of the Czech version of "Big Daddy"--only better. This movie is so bloody adorable, I recommend it to everyone who likes foreign stuff and wants to have fun, fun, fun and gain a bit of knowledge of Czech movies.

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