All Talk and No Action Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Kolya is set during the times of the Velvet Revolution.

The movie trails the life of a "had been" musician (Mr. Louka) and his everyday, penniless existence in a country grappling with communism.

To help him get over his debts and a non glamorous lifestyle, a friend suggests a marriage of convenience.
An arrangement whereby he could help a Russian mother get Czech papers in exchange for truckloads of money.

The arrangement goes on fine till the wife in question runs away to a lover in Germany.

This shouldn't have been a problem for our Mr. Louka who himself enjoys the company of many a woman.

Except for a minor glitch - Kolya.

Kolya, the child who is left behind by the runaway wife and who has now fallen into the unwilling laps of a step father.

How the Russian kid and the Czech father (old enough to be a grandfather) adjust and take to each other forms the plot of the movie.

If I had to cut to the verdict, I would say the movie is an absolute pleasure to watch.

Languidly paced, it gives you little idea about the actual premise.

As a viewer you get a chance to look at the Communist Czech, the slow lives of pensioners, the sleepy streets of the countryside, the incessant drumming of the Soviet army, the gentle yet firm uprising against Communist ideals.
Also, how a Czech national with little regard for his Soviet Captors settles down and takes care of a Soviet kid makes for an endearing watch.

The best part of most foreign language movies I have seen is - the details !

Yes, most of these movies show you the details, be it in terms of what food the protagonists eat to what buttons they wear to what kind of homes they inhabit. It lends more meat to the characters. One can easily understand where the character is coming from and how he lives.

For an example, in a simple scene where Mr Louka is shown having a sumptuous meal with his mother - the meal only consists of Boiled Potato Dumplings ! Another shows him having a fresh loaf of bread with jam. Yet, just the way these have been picturised, make you actually smell the fresh bread and the warm potatoes !

Another reason why I like to watch such movies is they invariably make you realise how similar people, languages and cultures are. Now did you know that Russians and Czechs call tea as "Chai"?? You would also realise this if you were to watch Nowhere in Africa. Hindi and African speakers (Kenyan, to be precise) share a lot of their vocabulary.

Performances wise, the movie is how it should be - underperformed and minimalistic. Nobody's trying to make an impact and thus they all end up making a strong one.

Zdenek Sverak (I wouldn't know how to pronounce his name) is charming as an old musician and an unwilling dad.

About Kolya, played by Andrei Chalimon, I just wanted to bring the kid home and never let him go !

A simple movie, a delicate relationship and sweet characters. An Oscar well deserved !


Ravan said...

ok...first i tot it was Koyla and not Kolya...

sounds interesting...will try to grab a copy...thats for telling...:D

All Talk and No Action said...

@Ravan - Ha. Mixing Koyla with Kolya. Poor Kolya :)

Do grab it. You won't be disappointed.