Pat Duggan from Hartford Connecticut is a very old friend and a devoted film buff. Yesterday he forwarded me the enclosed recommendation, and it is worth passing along.
I saw a film last night and I’m putting out the word – see it – “Ida” from Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski – one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time, maybe years. I had been hearing rumblings from various film festivals but was not expecting a magnificent film – which this is. In luminescent black and white, beautifully photographed, it conjures up Ingmar Bergman in its stationary camerawork, lingering shots, evocative close-ups, metaphysical landscapes, austere silence and stillness. Although it takes place in early 1960s Poland, it has an Old Testament feel. The storytelling is smooth and concise. An eighteen year old girl, an orphan, raised in a rural Polish convent, is about to take final vows. Out of the blue, her superior reveals there’s an aunt she never knew about and she must travel to meet her. Bluntly, the aunt tells the girl, actually, she’s a Jew – and her parents were murdered by neighbors who were fearful of Nazis. The two set out to find the killers and locate the bodies. Their relationship is complex – the innocent, strong, intelligent girl and the disillusioned, chain-smoking, heavy drinking, promiscuous aunt – and their exploits lead to a series of shocking events. Themes touch upon communism, Judaism, Catholicism, identity, guilt, cynicism, corruption, loss of faith, existence – in a very tight, very tense eighty minutes – amazing. While “Ida” casts a cold eye on life and death and evinces a certain distain for the human condition, it finishes with a Hobson’s choice and a morsel of warm hope – only a morsel. Casting and performances – superb. Hope you get to see it – an unforgettable film