Saturday, October 15, 2016
Poland after World War II. In a convent, Catholic nun Anna is ordered to find her aunt Wanda by her superior. Anna obliges and meets Wanda, who tells her the secret: Anna's real name is Ida, and she is Jewish, her parents being killed during the Totalitarian regime of the Nazis. Anna and Wanda go on a journey to find the grave of Anna's parents. They finally meet Feliks, who admits that he took over the home of Anna's parents during WWII, and killed them, together with Wanda's son, but left Anna for adoption in the convent. He shows them the grave in the forest. Later, Wanda commits suicide by jumping through the window. Anna tries out alcohol, night life and sex, and later on returns dressed as a nun.
Pawel Pawlikowski's 4th feature length film, "Ida" is an ambitious, minimalistic little film about the search for one's own identity and place in the world. Pawlikowski has a fine sense for captivating camera angles, compact storytelling, whereas the mood of old times of the 60s was nicely conjured up thanks to the aesthetic black and white cinematography. However, that cannot camouflage the notion that "Ida" is more suitable as a short film, since its running time of 78 minutes - although condensed - still seems to suffer from scenes of empty walk and overstretched tangles which do no contribute that much to the overall simple storyline. The author reduces the film to its bare bones, to its essence, but some of the elements could have benefited from more ingenuity and "color". For instance, Agata Trzebuchowska plays the nun heroine with a few energetic moves and gestures, and this could have been more exploited by having her do something more alive, more humorous, to truly come across as a real character. Some of that is found near the end, when she tries out alcohol and hanging around in night clubs, yet only in traces. Overall, "Ida" is a quality film, yet suffers from over-relying on social issues (the consequences of the Holocaust) instead of taking more care of the movie language and style, in order to offer a broader spectrum of a viewing experience, more than just a typical European art-drama.