Synopsis: Anna, a young novitiate nun in 1960s Poland, is on the verge of taking her vows when she discovers a dark family secret dating back to the years of the Nazi occupation
Stars: Agata Trzebuchowska, Agata Kulesza, Dawid Ogrodnik
Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Running Length: 82 minutes
TMMM Score: (8/10)
Review: At just 82 minutes, Ida is jam-packed with the kinds of images and ideas that many films twice its length and triple its budget could only hope to accomplish. The Oscar nominated film from Poland is the gentlest of tales, even when it finds itself dealing with horrific situations indicative of the time and place where the action unfolds.
Young novice nun Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska) is getting ready to take her vows at the small convent in the outskirts of the Polish People’s Republic when her mother superior urges her to make a visit to her aunt before fully committing herself to the church. Traveling to the city, she meets the aunt that is a stern judge by day and a haunted, promiscuous, addict by night. Seeing Anna reignites decades of pain in the judge and the two travel together back to the place of Anna’s birth…and back in time to reveal key mysteries that will change the lives of both forever.
I’ll let you figure out what secrets are brought to light because to spoil these intricate developments would be to rob you of the opportunity to experience the film with as little knowledge as possible. I went in with only that broad framework and my viewing was all the better for it. Director Pawel Pawlikowski and his co-screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz have designed a road trip picture that seems to go back in time with each mile (kilometer, sorry) the two women travel. There are moments of genuine surprise, with some critical developments that happen without any warning…making you give thanks for the rewind button on your streaming device.
Not only is Ida nominted (and favored to win) the Best Foreign Language Film award at The Academy Awards but it also snagged a nomination for Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski’s gorgeous black and white cinematography. Even more impressive is that the camera never moves in any of the crisp shots…there’s no tracking shot as the characters walk down a street or a big sweeping rise of the camera to reveal the expanse of the area around them. No, the camera is placed and the action happens…so we always feel like we’re on some bench watching the actors play in front of us. It’s an unobtrusive approach that, paired with the colorless visuals, works to the great benefit of the film’s effect as a whole.