CURIOUS FILM WEBSITE
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Dolby Digital 5.1 - Polish
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Author: Tim Price
Curious Films continue their trend of distributing great independent films in Australia with Ida, released on September 24.
Set in a firmly socialist 1960s Poland, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida follows Anna, a quiet and sheltered young woman preparing to take her vows to become a nun at a convent in which she has been orphaned since she was a child. Before taking her vows, Anna is instructed by a mother superior to visit her only living relative - her world-weary aunt Wanda. Wanda abruptly informs Anna that she was named Ida at birth and that her parents were Jews who were killed in the war. Despite Wanda’s initially curt manner, she offers to help Anna discover more about her parents and they both set off to the town where her parents lived.
While the synopsis suggests a Dreyeresque examination of challenged faith, Pawlikowski’s intention was to go further than just faith and to also explore “identity, family…guilt, socialism and music”. The film initially focuses on Anna, but Wanda becomes just as important to the film’s exploration of these themes as the story progresses. Both Anna and Wanda have their notions of identity challenged by what they discover on their journey, and both react to it in life-changing ways.
Agata Trzebucohowska does a good job with the role of Anna, but the withdrawn and timid nature of her character doesn’t give her much room to display her talents. Agata Kulesza is the real marvel of the film with her portrayal of Wanda. Wanda’s deterioration from a bitter judge with a hardened exterior to being severely emotional unstable in a short period of time is handled wonderfully and never feels jarring.
Pawilkowski’s use of music throughout the film is also notable. Drawing upon music from his childhood and his own memories of 1960s Poland, Pawilkowski fills the world of the film with jazz, pop and classical music. The music, which frequently emanates from radios, record players and clubs, not only gives us a peculiar sense of place and time, but is also incredibly important to Anna’s self-discovery. The biggest strength of Ida, though, is its gorgeous cinematography. Shot in black and white, the film is a pleasure to look at and Pawlikowski’s unorthodox framing places just as much emphasis on the world around the characters as the characters themselves.
At just 80 minutes, Ida is quite a short film, and is perhaps a bit too short to have the kind of resounding emotional impact that one feels should be delivered by a film that deals with the kind of issues that it presents. But its length also makes it easily digestible, and it is definitely worth watching for its performances, music and aesthetics.
Ida will be released by Curious Film on 24 September, 2014. Pre-order now at http://www.ezydvd.com.au/DVD/ida/dp/6154510#secinfo or any good Australian retailer.