Reviews for Friends #9 Ida

Reviews for Friends 10 - Ida

The most arresting film I have seen in a long while, Ida is a quiet masterpiece. Pared back, the monochrome rendering of the film (so difficult to get right) provides an emotionally-taut and superbly powerful vehicle for the raging drama of the storyline.

An off-beat road trip of sorts set in 1960s Poland, Ida is the story of two very different women and the horrific truths that bring them together. 18-year-old Anna, an orphan raised all her life in a convent, is about to make her vows to become a nun. Before she can do so, the Mother Superior insists that she visit her only living relative, her aunt Wanda - a somewhat disgraced Communist state prosecutor, relegated to a magistrate. Hard drinking and hard talking, Wanda shocks Anna by informing her that her real name is Ida, and that her Jewish parents were murdered during the Nazi occupation. The odd pair set off on a tortured journey to find the burial site - opening Ida’s eyes to the realities of life, and revealing further secrets of Wanda’s repressed past.

This film, Pawel Pawlikowski’s first to be set in his homeland, brings an amazing talent to light in the form of newcomer Agata Trzebuchowska - a controlled and nuanced performance, I found myself weirdly rooting for Ida to leave the convent behind. Of course, once she tries this, I was desperate for her to return, to stay sheltered from all the horror. She practically runs back as the film closes - and who can blame her?

I found the scenes in which she dresses, lives for a few hours, as her aunt extremely moving. Sensationally played by Agata Kulesza as a kind of noir femme fatale - only Polish style - Wanda brings a humour and warmth to a film which, battling with the heavy themes of identity, faith and anti-semitism, could otherwise have been too challenging for most viewers.

The framing throughout is striking - chopped up people, heads at the edge of the frame. I was reminded of Vermeer. Beautiful and disgusting at the same time, this is a haunting and distinctive and an absolute must-see.

 
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