Paweł Pawlikowski's 2013 film follows a young nun and her aunt through a ravaged post-war Poland. Info
Paweł Pawlikowski's renowned black-and-white character study, Ida (2013), is the penultimate pick of the year for the Wisconsin Film Festival's free Tuesday Night Movie Club series. This understated dramatic period feature, which spiritually and visually recalls Ingmar Bergman's most artistically prolific era in the early 1960s with cinematographer Sven Nykvist, was not only an instant hit when it premiered at the 2014 Wisconsin Film Festival, but went on to receive the Best Foreign Language Film award at the Oscars the following winter.
Set in a ravaged post-WWII Polish landscape in 1962, Ida follows a young, stoic novitiate nun (newcomer Agata Trzebuchowska). Before taking her final vows, she is reunited with her last-surviving relative, the cynically flippant Aunt Wanda (Agata Kulesza), who informs her that she is, in fact, of Jewish heritage (and had only known her alias of "Anna" at the convent). At Wanda's insistence, the odd couple traverse the recesses of the country to learn the truth about Ida's parents, the Lebensteins.
The road trip provides Wanda with dual, almost dueling purposes—to prove her notions right about the fate of her family's betrayal by members of the community while also attempting to dissuade Ida from becoming a nun to instead embrace the temptations of the secular world (and thus, explore her newfound personal identity). The film's intrinsically somber tone is buoyed by the endearing interplay between the two dichotomous central characters, as well as subtler and more tender moments that reveal a once-hidden humanity. This particular screening also anticipates Cold War, Pawlikowski's upcoming companion melodrama (also starring Agata Kulesza), set for limited release in late December. —Grant Phipps