Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ida: Poland's Haunting History

Ida is a small but powerful gem from Poland. It has been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film for the 2015 Academy Awards. Set in 1962 and directed by co-writer Pawel Pawlikowski, it is a mere 82 minutes in length.

Ida is memorable just for the two main performances. Agata Trzebuchowska gives a haunting portrayal as Anna/Ida, while Agata Kulesza excels as the haunted Wanka.

Anna is a novice nun who learns about her Jewish origins from her aunt Wanka, a former Stalinist prosecutor. The holocaust legacy, communist rule and the dominance of the Catholic church are all part of the complex backdrop to this quest. Ida's personal search for identity is further complicated by coming face to face with an alien, but enticing secular culture.

The black and white production reflects the bleaker elements of the story and the times. Similarly, the jazz soundtrack underlines the growing alternative spirit amongst youth at the time.

Anyway, in the old cliché, this film is about questions not answers. It's about the personal choices we all must make and their consequences.

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