For his latest film Pawel Pawlikowski returns to his native Poland for what is probably his most powerful film to date Ida (2013), following two English language films Last Resort (2000) and My Summer of Love (2004) and the predominantly French language film which stared Kristin Scott Thomas The Woman in the Fifth (2012).
As far as Anna knows she has no family, having been brought up in a convent. Called into the Mother Superiors office she is told that a living relative has come forward and before she takes her final vows she should go and meet the women. Her dead mothers sister Wanda is a good-looking middle-aged lady with no family of her own. She was employed as a judge in political trials during the Soviet Stalin regime, which gave her power over life and death. She is now a very bitter woman, a heavy smoker with a drink habit that borders alcoholism. Her causal sex life consists of one-night stands. Into this life steps the young novitiate nun who has never been out of the close confines of the Catholic convent. But it's the secrets that date back to the time of the Second World War that her aunt has too impart that's shocks Anna, learning that even her name is not her own, originally being given the name Ida!
|Her sadly beautiful Aunt imparts secrets that could change her life forever!|
This intimate road trip into the secrets of the past is beautifully composed in black and white by Ryszard Lenczewski who has worked with the director on his previous body of work. His scenes are 'bottom weighted', by that I mean that although a scene would fill the square frame format, the characters heads and shoulders would appear at the bottom, said by the director to give them ‘grounding’.
Filmed in the Lodzkie district of Poland and set in the early 1960's, it paints the urban landscape as a bleak, cold and austere place, a place that has never come to terms with the devastation brought on by the war. Newcomer Agata Trzebuchowska intimately plays the role of Anna/Ida, with the great Polish actress Agata Kuleska playing her aunt, who if your are a regular at the EIFF would have seen her in two great movies Roza (2011) and Traffic Department (2013),
This cheerless but ‘masterful evocation of intimate dilemmas and the weight of history’ raises many questions about the fundamental meaning of life! It goes some way to give us an incite in to the relationship between the Catholic Poles and the Jews, it makes us question our belief in the decency of mankind, who are saints and who are the sinners? In Ida’s case will she be tempted not to take her vows avoiding a closed life of worship. Is there more to life than sin and happy families? If like many other Polish films this will probably not get a wide release, which is a great shame.