There’s nothing very original about Kolya. In fact, a lot of it strays into cliché – a Czech concert cellist - a bachelor and inveterate womaniser – is blacklisted by the authorities and forced to earn a living playing at funerals and repainting gravestones...
Until one day he is persuaded by a friend (and a good sum of money) to enter into a sham marriage with a woman desperate to leave Russia to be closer to her German lover.
The woman soon defects to the West, leaving her five-year-old son with the cellist.
As I said, nothing very original there, but there’s something more to this film, played out against the background of the collapse of Communism, that led to it winning the 1996 Oscar Best Foreign Language film.
If nothing else, it is also highly enjoyable – but it also manages the relationship between the man and the boy very well as, initially separated by language as well as several years, they learn to live with each other and then form a real bond.
I won’t give away what happens at the end, because it’s well worth taking the trouble to watch and find out yourself. This film is funny, charming and, if not hugely original, certainly done a lot better than many others.