IDA | REVIEW & GIVEAWAY

Yo poppers, in honour of IDA sadly missing out on a Golden Globe to another awesome movie, LEVIATHAN, most likely because it will win the Oscar, the folks at Curious Films have kindly given us 7x iTunes vouchers so you can download the movie and watch it for freeeeeeee. Yippeeeeee. This one we will run quickly and I will email you a voucher if you are worthy 🙂 – see below on how to enter. Now revisit Kernel Andrew’s fine review and win away!!

ORIGINAL ARTICLE FROM MAY 2014.

Kernel Andrew reviews IDA, a stunning looking black and white film brought to us from CURIOUS FILMS that looks like it will have large appeal to movie aficionados and lovers of art house cinema and superb filmmaking. It is a Polish/ Dutch co-production, is currently unrated, runs for a short 80mins and releases on limited release from the 22nd of May in Australia. If this film interests you, I have some good news, the wonderful people at CURIOUS FILMS have given us 10X double passes to giveaway – see after Andrew’s review to find out how to win. All the best……………JK.

 

IDA MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
IDA | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | THE MOVIE POSTER

 

REVIEW BY ANDREW BRUSENTSEV

I want to preface this review by saying that Ida will not be successful with a mainstream audience, that is a very bold statement but sadly I really believe it. It is a movie removed of both emotion and humour, symbolised quite beautifully by it also being completely devoid of colour. Pawel Pawilkoswki’s IDA (which he wrote and directed) is severe if I could sum it up in one word. Underneath I found a hidden beauty though. Intrigued? Then read on…

The first thing that will strike you about this movie is that it is gorgeously photographed in very grainy almost “grey” black and white. Some of the visuals in this movie, especially the opening shots, are jaw dropping in their intensity, composition and sheer visual beauty. Most striking were the opening scenes which focus on the daily life of our protagonist, Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska), in the convent. Absolutely silently stunning.

To be fair other movies have focused on the same storyline and confronted the region’s very disturbing history of anti-semitism. Especially during the WWII period. This though is not just another one of those movies. The director manages to connect this horrific period of history to more overarching questions, those of family, faith and fate. He explores these through the eyes of Anna, a novitiate Catholic nun, whose life is turned upside down when she is informed by the Mother Superior that she was in fact born Jewish. She is told that before she takes her vows to join the order she should explore her past and work out what that truly means. Her Mother Superior informs her that she has one surviving relative. Before the taking of her vows she is to spend some time with her, understanding her roots. Wanda (Agata Kulesza) we quickly find out is a hard-drinking, chain-smoking judge. In her former professional life she was also known as “Red Wanda” for her role as a prosecutor of so-called “enemies of the state.”

 

ida image ida and wanda
IDA | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | IDA (Agata Trzebuchowska) and WANDA (Agata Kulesza)

 

Wanda, a no nonsense kind of woman, quickly informs Anna that she was actually born to her sister Roza. Her real name being Ida Lebenstein. There are no traces of her family anymore but Wanda suspects the worst that they were murdered by the Nazis during the War.

The movie, on a very veneer level, then follows the story arc of a road trip / investigation that the two women undertake to find out exactly what happened. For you see Ida wants to visit her parents graves and in a very traditional eastern european way pray over their graves. If that was the superficial level of the story then this would be a very generic Euro tele movie. But that is not the power of this film. Here we get a far more nuanced murkier screenplay which explores the nature of these two women with this setting as a backdrop.

Ida is an idealist completely naive to the real world. Wanda is a cynic who can scarcely cope with the hypocrisy and inhumanity she has seen in her earlier years. What at first can be dismissed as a hard nosed alcoholic soon becomes a subject that is worthy of true pity.

 

IDA IMAGE (Agata Trzebuchowska)
IDA | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | IDA (Agata Trzebuchowska)

 

During the journey to Wanda’s old ancestral town Ida’s journey is complicated by her chance meeting with a young hitchhiker. He turns out to be a very handsome young musician (Dawid Ogrodnik), the attraction between the two is nearly instantaneous. Perhaps there is more to life that just the convent we can almost see Ida saying to herself. Of course this is never expressed except through the movies only real powerful musical score that of Coltrane’s Namita. In fact this counterpoint of true genius emotion balances out the near lack of emotion in the actual visual. This is also balanced out by performers who are so nuanced that their scenes are open to as many interpretations as there are probably audience members. That is not a fault but a power. Ida’s true voice comes from her expressions. Through her eyes we sit and observe her aunt’s own self-destructive behaviour. Learning more of Wanda’s past she moves from a position of almost righteous indignation to one of sorrow for her aunt’s predicament to one of caretaker.

Trzebuchowska delivers such a nuanced and subtle performance as Ida that it is quite astounding. The same can be said for Kulesza as Wanda. I was absolutely captivated by their near mute performances. There was so much going on underneath the surface I was captivated. How the director managed to delve deep into the souls and thoughts of the protagonists is perhaps this films greatest achievement.

 

IDA IMAGE
IDA | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | IDA (Agata Trzebuchowska) and friend

 

This austere approach, as I have said before, is not for everyone. It is quite severe. But the parallel emotional journey that I found myself undertaking was quite powerful. The script does not give us any historical background on the war or the Holocaust. In many scenes the normal “cinematic cues” are missing, much like the near non existent music (besides the Coltrane mentioned earlier) and the minimalist use of camera movement. The camera work of Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski should be applauded and should win them a new legion of fans. They are master craftsmen. They are not the stars though, our two principals Ida (Agata Trzebuchowska) and Wanda (Agata Kulesza), should be given standing ovations everywhere for some truly powerful performances.

 

4 and a Half Pops

 

With special thanks to CURIOUS to win one of the 7X iTunes download vouchers to see IDA you need to either like and share/ retweet this post on Facebook/Twitter/ Google+/ Pinterest/ LinkedIn/ Flipboard or Instagram (all the links to follow us are on the top right of homepage), you then need to leave a comment below stating the answer/s to the following questions:

What is your favourite foreign language film Oscar winner and why?  For me, there can only ever be won, it will never be beaten – CINEMA PARADISO – one of my all time favourite movies, very special to my heart, being a projectionist and all 🙂 – This list may help you – remember winners only – the yellow ones 🙂

If you do not have Facebook and Twitter then get with the times old timer haha – You can still enter, leave your entry below and email me at jking@saltypopcorn.com.au telling me you don’t have social media 

The prizes will be sent in the next week. Good luck! Oh, and minor housekeeping – huge apologies for overseas readers, this competition is only available to Australian residents.