With the stark, austere, minimalist Ida, and the dazzling, audacious, smoldering Cold War, Pawel Pawlikowski crafted impeccably beautiful back-to-back gems charged with historical and political overtones, even if diametrically contrasting in terms of style and scope. Through its intensely focused approach, Ida (set in 1960s Poland) powerfully touched upon the ugly ghosts from the country’s Nazi-era past, and how some scars are impossible to heal even if they get muted over time. Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska), a young nun living a life of self-denial in a Catholic convent, is advised to visit her maternal aunt who she’s never met, before taking her vows. Thus she visits Wanda (Agata Kulesza), a hard-drinking, chain-smoking and unapologetically promiscuous judge and former member of Polish Communist Resistance during WWII, who informs Anna that her real name is Ida, she’s actually a Jew and her parents were murdered during the German occupation. And so, these two disparate ladies, connected by a shared past, embark on an odyssey to locate the graves of Ida’s parents, and perhaps Wanda’s infant son too. Over the course of their road trip through the bleak Polish landscape, they meet a farmer secretly carrying skeletons from the past, and also a young saxophonist who gets Ida’s sensuality stirred. In the process, despite their enormous differences – Ida’s opacity and faith vis-à-vis Wanda’s volatility and lack thereof – they start understanding one another, while also being left so deeply ruffled that they eventually respond in shockingly unexpected ways. Kulesza gave an especially stunning performance as the cynical and disillusioned Wanda in this moody, ambiguous, implosive and deceptively complex film – brilliantly photographed in striking B/W – on identity and the strive for reconciliations (historical, political, familial, personal).
Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Genre: Drama/Political Drama/Religious Drama/Road Movie