IDA : Blockbuster Of The Season
When you try to think of a good “date movie,” films like Schindler’s List or The Boy in the Striped Pajamas aren’t usually the first to come to mind. What, a romantic evening spent digesting the horrors of the holocaust doesn’t sound fun to you? Well, to be honest, anyone who knows us understands that my boyfriend and I aren’t necessarily the most traditional of couples. So when we were desperately searching for a movie that wouldn’t star Adam Sandler or this month’s bikini-model-turned-actress du jour, we found a gem in the Polish film Ida.
Ida, set in 1960s Poland, is about a novice nun named Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska), who, one week before taking her vows, is instructed to visit her aunt Wanda (Agata Kulesza). Upon meeting her for the first time, Wanda informs Anna that her parents were in fact Jewish, killed during the time of the holocaust, and together they embark on a small odyssey to discover more about Anna’s past.
The relationship between Anna and Wanda is one of yin and yang. They are stark contrasts to each other, every bit the opposite in every aspect of themselves, from personality to hair color. Anna is quiet and pious, silently reading her bible while the clamor of beatnik jazz and passionate dancing pounds away on the hotel floor below her. Wanda on the other hand, possesses a wild streak and a wry sense of humor; she smokes, she drinks, she brings men back to her hotel room. “I’m the slut and you’re the little saint,” she tells Anna after saying goodbye to the stranger with whom she spent the evening.
As Wanda and Anna delve deeper into their dark family history, the search for Anna’s parents metamorphosizes into a quest for their own identities. A journey that audiences may find foreign at first becomes a coming-of-age story that anyone can relate to.
Each frame is a photographic masterpiece; white light illuminates Anna’s androgynous, angelic bone structure. Snow falls in a steady stream as she makes her way from the convent, a speck of dark among the stagnant white landscape. You can practically see the musical notes floating and drifting from the saxophone player’s “sensual” instrument, as Wanda describes it. The film’s brilliant black-and-white cinematography accents every wrinkle the characters possess, every exhalation they take. The movie’s pace is slow, but highlights the poignancy and intricate delicacy of human emotion.
The film’s beauty comes from its subtlety.
Pawel Pawlikowski’s direction allows the setting, the lighting, the music to each take on a character of its own, ultimately creating a haunting effect that lingers with you long after the credits have rolled.
So yes, even if it’s not your typical date night movie, the film is a beautiful piece that will remind you that less is more when creating a meaningful work of art. And guess what? I’d take this movie over a summer blockbuster any day.