Saturday 2 March 2019

Cold War [2018]

Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War is at once monumental and deeply personal, seemingly detached and yet deftly affecting, and with a scope that’s both bombastic and intensely focused, thus justifying the film’s adventurous title while also subtly critiquing the folly of grand politicking. The filmmaker’s parents, both of whom died just as the Velvet Revolution was about to kick-in, had a complicated relationship; inspired by their tale, he retained their names but fictionalized their journeys by concocting an exhilarating, tumultuous love story that cut across national borders, political ideologies, and the complex and volatile Cold War era during which it’s set. The brooding, laconic, chain-smoking Wictor (Tomasz Kot) is a musician extraordinaire who, along with a musicologist and a would-be apparatchik, founds a folk song-and-dance troupe, where he meets and falls for Zula (Joanna Kulig), a vivacious, temperamental and enigmatic lady with a silken voice. As the troupe starts touring, at the backdrop of a rapidly evolving political climate, one might be reminded of Angelopoulos’ pièce de résistance The Traveling Players or Zhang-ke’s masterful Zhantai. The film, however, brilliantly changed its trajectory from the epic to the intimate when Wictor, upon deciding to defect to the West, isn’t joined by Zula as she decides to stay back. Their fascinating tale of love and lust, constantly alternating between separations and reunions, toggles between Communist Poland and jazz-soaked Paris, with a bit of East Berlin and Yugoslavia thrown in. Music in its myriad shades in general, and an incredibly haunting central song in particular, formed the central motif for the film’s circuitous narrative, and were wonderfully complemented by enthralling B/W photography, absorbingly moody atmosphere, and a tour de force performance by the dazzling Kulig in particular.

Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Genre: Drama/Romantic Drama/Political Drama
Language: Polish/French
Country: Poland

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