Friday, December 12, 2014

12 Movies of Christmas: Ida (2014)

                                                     
                 
                 'Ida': A Briefly Powerful Gem With A Chill As Cold As The Film's Setting
         
       We have seen plenty of films about different wars over the years, especially films about World War II, which usually come out at the end of the year. But while Ida deals with that war in a way, it interestingly takes a different angle and focuses on not just the aftermath, but how someone becoming a victim can affect the lives of their loved ones.

               Story:
              Ida follows the story of a Polish nun named Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska) who, after a meeting with her Mother Superior, decides to pay a visit to her aunt Wanda (Agata Kulesza), who tells her that her real name is Ida Lebenstein and that she is Jewish. Wanda even says how her parents were murdered during the war, prompting Ida to want to visit their graves while they both embark on a journey of self-discovery.

               Ups:
              First off, I'll get into the performances by the two leads or the two Agatas if you will. Agata Trzebuchowska is a quiet tour-de-force as Ida and gives one of those performances that proves how less is more. Agata's performance lives in her eyes, which showcase a series of emotions ranging from sorrow to doubt to even sexuality. There are quite a bit of layers to her character that you wouldn't really notice which is remarkable acting in my opinion. Agata Kulesza is also phenomenal as Wanda and what I really loved about her performance is just her unapologetic nature. Wanda is someone who doesn't take crap and acts as the voice of reason when it is called for. Kulesza brings such a quiet ferocity to her character and brilliantly plays the yin to Trzebuchowksa's yang since Wanda is rather sultry and hard-nosed while Ida is more proper and quiet. Two outstanding performances and if I had a ballot, they would easily make my shortlist for Best Actress (Trzebuchowksa) and Supporting Actress (Kulesza) at the Oscars.

             Next, I'll get into the cinematography. The black-and-white cinematography was absolutely stunning and beautiful yet it brings quite a haunting chill to the film thanks to the film's isolated setting. Not only that, but I think the whole black-and-white style represents how Anna and Wanda are the yin to each other's yang in terms of personality. I especially loved the direction by Pawel Pawlikowski and how he was able to direct the performances by the two Agatas. Even when Pawlikowski has the camera filming them from a distance, we can still feel their emotions. I also loved how since he also co-wrote the film, he didn't just create a standard road movie. What he and co-writer Rebecca Lenkiewicz did was not only have Wanda go on a journey of self-discovery, but have Ida decide whether she wants to literally and figuratively "become a nun". I thought that whole angle was very interesting and doesn't just make this a simple story about a woman wanting to find where her parents are buried.

             Downs:
             NIL.

             Consensus:
             Overall, Ida is a unique road movie that may be short in length due to its 80 minute running time, yet it has plenty packed into it. It has dynamic and complex performances by its two leads. beautiful yet haunting cinematography, and a brilliant storyline.

             Would I Recommend It?:
             If you like foreign films, I would say absolutely. But if you can't bear having to read subtitles, then I would probably say look elsewhere. But if you don't like reading subtitles, I would still say give it a chance. It is a masterful movie.

Grade: A+