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Poland, 1962. Anna, an orphan brought up by nuns in the convent, is a novice. She has to see Wanda, the only living relative, before she takes her vows. Wanda tells Anna about her Jewish roots. Both women start a journey not only to find their family's tragic story, but to see who they really are and where they belong. They question what they used to believe in.Written by
Cinematographer Ryszard Lenczewski quit the film after shortly into filming, allegedly for medical reasons, though director Pawel Pawlikowski has later said that Lenczewski left because he did not care for the film and that they would not be working together again. He was replaced by Lukasz Zal, who had been a camera operator on the film. See more »
Flipped image. Near the end, Ida is resting in bed with her head on a pillow, to the left side of the screen. The close up shot is from above looking down and the image is flipped. A small mole that has been on her right cheek throughout the film is, in this shot, on her left side, and returns to her right side in the following shots. See more »
What sort of sacrifice are these vows of yours?
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Anna grew up in a Catholic orphanage, never knowing her parents. Deeply religious, she is slated to become a nun within a few weeks. However, before taking her vows, Anna must leave the convent and visit her only living relative, a cold and distant aunt. Upon their first meeting, she is told that she is really Ida, a Jewish niece. So begins their relationship and journey to find her past and specifically, her parent's unmarked graves.
With an unusually short film length of less than 90 minutes, Ida is an extremely well made film, sensitively directed by Pawel Pawlikowski. Under the backdrop of 1960's Poland, the film's premise of presenting contrasting religions and lifestyles is its main attraction. The screenplay by the director and Rebecca Lenkiewicz has much to say and tells its linear narrative concisely and without any flourish. ￼ Ida is a fine film that could have been a great film had its script added more dimension to its central character. Anna, or Ida, is mainly a saintly conduit, a devout presence who never seems to be real in any sense. She begins as an enigma and, surprisingly, rarely displays any strong emotional reaction when confronted with disturbing news.
Agata Trzebuchowska plays Ida / Anna and she is physically right for the role. The actress invests the right degree of innocence and vulnerability. Even more effective is Agata Kulesza as Ida's bitter and alcoholic Aunt Wanda. Her role has far more depth and the actress makes subtle choices in underplaying the anger and hostility within her complex character. It is a strong and memorable performance.
The film, beautifully photographed by Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zal, might have a smaller budget than most movies these days, but one never notices any lapse in quality as production values are of the highest caliber. With lovely black & white images and a lyrical score by Kristian Eidnes Andersen, Ida is superior filmmaking, even if some of the transitions and editing seems slightly abrupt. The film effectively deals with powerful themes that will resonate with any serious film-goer and deserves to be seen. GRADE: B
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