Wednesday, October 05, 2005


1997 Oscar Winner Best Foreign Language Picture

Dir: Jan Sverak (Dark Blue World)

This Czech movie is "Kramer vs. Kramer" meets "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" A down on his luck musician (Louka) enters into a fake marriage for money. When the bride bails, the ladies man is stuck with five year old Kolya. What would have been your typical "little kid teaches the cynic to love" movie is made more intersting by the cultural context of Prague right before the Velvet Revolution. Kolya is Russian, and Louka must come to grips with raising a boy and living with an occupier. Still, the movie is essential Hollywood stock, with some unique cultural elements added for flavor.

Oscar likes comedic and light heatred movies more when they are foreign, especially when they add elements of cultural reflection. The film is by all means tender and amusing. And the exploration of how the Czech's had almost become used to occupation, where resistance was passe until the youth movement rekindled it, is intersting as well. There is nothing wrong with the film; it was an enjoyable movie watching experience. But it won't be cracking any top 100 lists, I wager.

If Indochine was an opera, Kolya is a Cole Porter love song. Witty and sophisticated, but also sentimental and trite. I listen to opera, but I also listen to a lot of Cole Porter. Kolya does what it does well and for that I commend it, even if that is all it does.