IDA Pawel Pawlikowksi’s New Film Is Not To Be Missed
Pawel Pawliksowski is responsible for some of the most memorable female characters in
recent British Cinema. Dina Korzun as Tanya who comes to the UK from Russia
seeking asylum and ends up trapped in a desolate detention centre in LAST RESORT,
Natalie Press and Emily Blunt as Mona and Tamsin whose mutual loneliness creates a
dangerous bond in MY SUMMER OF LOVE and Kristin Scott Thomas as the mysterious Margit
who may or may not be a figment of Ethan Hawke’s imagination in THE WOMAN IN THE
FIFTH. The London and Paris-based director has proven a master at telling stories about
ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Finding the surreal in the everyday, his
films and characters linger in your mind long after the lights go up.
Add to this his latest effort the haunting IDA, which won Best Film at last year’s BRITISH FILM
FESTIVAL and opens around Europe in the coming months. Shot in black and white and
utilizing a 4:3 aspect ratio which frames the stunning images in an almost square box, it’s
Pawlikowski’s first feature shot in his native Poland. IDA is the story of Anna, a young orphan
nun in the early 1960s about to take her vows. Before taking this step, the mother superior
suggests a meeting with her only living relative, her aunt Wanda. Anna is shocked when
the harsh, heavy-drinking Wanda confronts her with the news that her real name is Ida
and she is, in fact, Jewish. The two women set out to uncover the truth about Ida’s parents:
Killed in the war, their remains were never found. In the wake of this journey, Ida is forced
to come face to face with the history of both her country and herself.
At the heart of the film are two performances of utter brilliance. Non-professional Agata
Trzebuchowska is a discovery as the silent and controlled Ida, her timeless features
achieving an almost iconic quality. The moment she first lets her hair down from under her
nun’s veil – simple yet significant – is pure magic. Agata Kulesza as Wanda is equally strong,
hiding a lonely woman scarred by the past behind bouts of rage and cynicism.
Make sure to catch this one. Gloomy and original, IDA is a quiet masterpiece. It will break
your heart but you’ll be glad you let it.