A version of this review first appeared as part of our JDIFF 2014 coverage
Ida is one of the most beautifully shot films you will see this year. It played first earlier this year at JDIFF and is thankfully finally showing up again, which is a relief as Pawel Pawlikowski’s first film in his native Poland is a treat.
Filmed in black and white and with an aspect ratio of 1.37:1, it tells the story of Ida, a nun about to take her vows. Before doing so she is advised to make contact with her only living relative – an aunt who works as a judge for the state.
Only 80 minutes in length and dialogue-light, Ida still manages to tell a heartbreaking tale examining the effect the Nazi occupation had on Poland and the role of anti-Semitism within the country. When Ida calls on her aunt, she discovers that her parents were killed for being Jewish and she was only spared as she was so young and could easily hide her true identity. The film then turns into a road movie as Ida and her aunt try to track down the location of her parents’ burial place.
Over this journey we learn why her Aunt Wanda is a drunk and on a path of self destruction. The role is expertly played by Agata Kulesza who squeezes every last drop of human emotion from the character. Agata Trzebuchowska, in her first ever acting role, is mesmerising as a young nun trying to maintain her beliefs while coming to terms with a hidden past and being properly exposed to the world with all its pleasures and horrors for the first time.
Showing on limited release from September 27th 2014