A novice nun about to take her vows uncovers a family secret dating back to the German occupation.A novice nun about to take her vows uncovers a family secret dating back to the German occupation.A novice nun about to take her vows uncovers a family secret dating back to the German occupation.
However, before this can take place, the mother superior sends her to meet her only living relative, a woman named Wanda.
The pair could not be less similar. Ida is quiet, gentle, thoughtful, and shy. Her aunt is tough as nails--she has real power as a judge, and she knows how to use it. She's a heavy drinker and a heavy smoker. She's also a Jew.
In the first few minutes of the movie, Anna learns that she's Jewish. As a very young girl, she was taken to the convent, where the nuns raised her. (Her real name is Ida, which is why that's the title of the film.)
Wanda and Anna set out to return to their rural home, to solve the mystery of what happened to their family 20 years earlier. Why did Ida survive, when her family--other than Wanda--did not?
This film, shot in black & white, is superbly constructed on every dimension. The plot is tight, and the acting is incredible. Agata Kulesza (Wanda) and Agata Trzebuchowska (Anna/Ida), are immensely talented actors.
The cinematography is incomparable. My wife and I felt as if any frame--from the beginning to the end of the movie--would make a great still photograph.
Pawlikowski knows how to focus on his main actors, but he also lets us know that, while the protagonists are involved in heartbreaking drama, the rest of the world is going about its business around them.
This is a grim film. Anna's life is restricted by her piety. Wanda's life is constricted by alcohol and--it would appear--by lack of any close personal relationships. Everyone in Poland is restricted by horrible memories, dark secrets, and Soviet domination.
Grim or not, this is a film you shouldn't pass up if you care about great cinema. We saw it on a large screen at the LittleTheatre in Rochester, NY. However, it will work well enough on DVD. Don't miss it.
- Jun 13, 2014