Kolya

While it's tempting to attribute the Czech film Kolya's recent Oscar win to the cute-kid factor that always seems to help nominees in the Best Foreign Film category, to do so is to unfairly dismiss a nifty, parable-like movie about the perils and pleasures of commitments both personal and political. Shortly before the fall of the Iron Curtain, a rakish, blacklisted, middle-aged cellist finds himself caring for the son of his defected wife, with whom he shares a marriage of convenience. At first upset by this development—he and the boy, a Russian, don't even speak the same language—he slowly begins to care for the child. There's very little doubt as to where Kolya is going from the moment the kid makes his first entrance, but the movie's simple story is subtly and affectingly told with the sort of small touches that make the difference between a film that genuinely makes you feel moved and one that demands your emotional involvement with all the skill of a black-velvet painting of a crying clown. And, truth be told, it really doesn't hurt that its young star is a damn cute little kid.

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