Paweł Pawlikovski’s “Ida” – Review and Trailer

idaPaweł Pawlikovski is no stranger to challenging subjects, if his documentaries are any account (Serbian Epics is still remarkable). So the topic of the dark history of Poland in relation to the dark history of Europe’s relationship with the Jews is one that is best investigated by one like him.

The film is essentially about a nun in the 1960’s in an identity crisis when she learns that she is Jewish and her parents were killed in the Holocaust. In the process she meets her aunt, a jaded ex-Communist crusader still haunted by these things that she has not revisited until her niece re-enters her life.

If there is one way to describe the style of “Ida”, it is controlled, poetic minimalism. Classical composition is, to great effect, often ignored; in a frame we may see more of a doorway than the body of the actor. At other times, the action important to the exposition is heard off-screen, and on screen we watch a character subtly reacting to it. Two scenes which stick out for their particular brilliance are the early bar scene, in which the aunt orders shots for herself and another person, and the later window scene, of which, if you have seen the film, you will know what I am referring to.

This style is a brilliant way to explore this identity crisis. The question is proposed and almost understood – how can a Jewish victim of a massacre join the religion of her oppressors? But with this brief flirtation with her genetic and cultural identity, how can that overrule her assumed identity which she has known since she was very young?

It’s a brilliant, mature, subdued depiction of a still relevant and important topic, especially considering it involves the Poles killing Jews rather than Germans, a not uncommon reality that few like to discuss.

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One Comment on “Paweł Pawlikovski’s “Ida” – Review and Trailer”

  1. Lawrence Chadbourne
    June 2, 2014 at 9:09 am #

    Tom: It’s too bad, given the praise bestowed on this movie’s cinematography- it was shot on film- that we can’t see it here, so far, except on video, The distributor made a 35mm print available for the engagement in Chicago, at least. I’ve written Landmark which has booked the movie here to ask them why they can’t do that as well, and have yet to receive the courtesy of a reply,

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