Ida (2013) – Pawel Pawlikowski (Friday’s Finest)


Ida is a Polish movie which won the 2015 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It is set in Poland in 1962. It tells of the story of a young woman is about to take her vows as a Catholic nun. She was orphaned as an infant after the German occupation in World War II. Before taking her vows she is mandated to see her Aunt who is her only living relative. Her Aunt ‘Wanda’ reveals to Ida that she is in fact Jewish and alludes to a great tragedy which befell on her family.

The duration is just 82 minutes and so little is said throughout, but the words which are spoken are necessary and poignant. Sometimes less is better and Ida is a great demonstration of the effectiveness of minimalist cinema. The road trip shared by the quiet, morally virtuous Ida and her verbose, narcissistic and promiscuous aunt played magnificently by Aguta Kulesza is captivating viewing. They complement each other wonderfully.
Ida’s Aunt continually tempts Ida to defrock herself as it were:

Wanda (Aunt) – You have such a nice dimple.
– Three when you smile.
– Men will go crazy.
– Do you have sinful thoughts sometimes?
Ida – Yes.
Wanda – About carnal love?
Ida – No
Wanda – That’s ashame.
– You should try
– Otherwise what sort of sacrifice are these vows of yours?

According to Wikipedia: Pawlikowski had difficulty in casting the role of Anna/Ida. After he’d interviewed more than 400 actresses, Agata Trzebuchowska was discovered by a friend of Pawlikowski’s, who saw her sitting in a cafe in Warsaw reading a book. She had no acting experience or plans to pursue an acting career. She agreed to meet with Pawlikowski because she was a fan of his film My Summer of Love (2004).

Agata Trzebuchowska’s delivers a very commendable debut performance, but Agata Kulesza (The aunt) is absolutely right in every part of her role as Aunt Wanda. She is so whole and complex inside a movie that doesn’t otherwise spend lengths on character’s backgrounds. She just draws you inside, whether you know her story, her past, her issues or not. A jaw-dropping performance.

Shot in gorgeous black and white, this film is a disconcerting beauty while remaining simple and pure, with a neat photography, elegant and appropriate framings highlighting the emptiness and the sadness of certain existences, and a careful treatment of natural light. Overall, I was touched by its delicateness, simplicity, great photography, splendid script and nuanced acting.

I am not a big fan of jazz but the choice of Coltrane’s jazz music for parts of this film really let you feel what jazz is all about, it was beautiful. I’ll leave you with this music from the film:

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Movies and TV
16 comments on “Ida (2013) – Pawel Pawlikowski (Friday’s Finest)
  1. This was one of those movies that I appreciate more than I like. I like minimalist cinema, this felt a bit threadbare, but that’s me. This film achieves all of its objectives masterfully, just like you say and, yes, the aunt…Brilliant performance.

    • I can understand your criticism of it being a bit ‘threadbare’ despite appreciating its artistic merit. As I mentioned I was touched by Ida. It’s a movie I look forward to revisiting.

  2. macalder02 says:

    I have not had the opportunity to watch the movie. But as you describe it, it must be as you say it: Excellent. It really catches my attention is the very precise way to describe the theme and the characters. It gave the impression that I was watching the movie in the cinema with your narration. Now I will have to look for it with Spanish subtitles. Regards.

  3. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Stirring review. I wrote this down on my list. I’m always curious about people who are found out in the street somewhere and whisked off to act in a movie (Matt Dillion as a child, Mel Gibson was giving a friend a ride to the Mad Max audition–the rest is history) but the aunt sounds even more alluring. Kind of like an Aunty Mame figure.

    • I didn’t know that about Mel. How interesting. I like the Harrison Ford one where he was reading lines for actors auditioning for roles in Star Wars (1977). Lucas was eventually won over by Ford’s performance during these line reads and cast him as Han Solo. Also the story about the Mexican schoolteacher who was chosen for Roma. She had no intention of auditioning for the film when Cuarón came to Oaxaca to find the perfect actress to play Cleo. Her older sister, Edith, had been planning to audition for the role but because she was pregnant, urged her to consider auditioning instead.
      I had to look up who Aunty Mame was lol. I think the Aunt in Ida is one of the most intriguing characters I’ve ever seen. My god does she have depth! I could have watched her all day. I hope you get to see it, but I doubt your husband would like it. ;-P

  4. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Yes, I love the Harrison Ford stuff. The irony with him is that he came to loathe the Han Solo role. For someone who isn’t the BEST actor ever–he’s really good, right? Not great–he has scored SO many iconic roles but seems like a bitter, angry person when he’s interviewed.
    Like…poor Harrison. Was your life really that bad? Boo hoo! 🙂
    Have not seen Roma. Another on the list.
    And if I watch enough car shows with hubby, it’ll be HIS turn to have to sit through Ida with me….eventually, ha ha.

    • Harrison Ford is a smooth, charismatic actor. A bit like George Clooney. They make it look it effortless, but they don’t standout as particularly exceptional.

      Enjoy those car shows! You would have to chain me to a chair to watch them lol Does your husband enjoy tinkering with them?

  5. selizabryangmailcom says:

    That’s a good way to put it: they make it look effortless but stand out as particularly exceptional. Perfect. That’s exactly what I meant.

    Hubby used to tinker with them in his youth. He bought several crap cars and slowly replaced parts and built them up. His crowning achievement was his ’69 Mustang.

    Yeah, I just sit there during the shows going, “Ooh,” “Yeah,” “Mm-hmm, mm….” while I space out and think of other things, lol

    • The only reason I said it the way you meant it was because Edward Norton recently described Ford and Clooney in those words. I took the words right out of his mouth lol

      I admire people like your husband who do that stuff. A 69 Mustang! I’ve heard of the make of vehicle. I had an old 70’s vehicle which I bought for next to nothing when I lived in Australia. I gave it away to a friend when I moved here.

  6. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Gotcha. Ed was being very complimentary, then. He’s one of our favorite actors.

    I know you figured it out, but I left “don’t” out above in the ‘particularly exceptional” sentence. I hate it when I do that. It makes me wonder how often I’m actually doing stuff like that at work. But hopefully not. I think it’s generally because I don’t proofread after I comment. I’m not sure anyone does.

    Yeah, I admire him those skills too. He was trying to teach me how to change a tire myself if it went flat and I couldn’t reach anyone. It looks fairly simple, but I still know I’d end up with the car slamming down on my foot and/or the bolts falling off as I drove ’cause I didn’t tighten them enough, and then the tire flying off, and then I’d drive off a cliff. 🙂

    • That’s funny you wrote that about editing and proofreading. I wonder too how much I make common errors. I imagine it’s a lot, because I will skimread posts before they become published

    • Haha I just did it lol Trigger finger. I was going to say, I proofread the night before my post is scheduled to be published, but I still find on the day my post is published there are errors I overlooked at the proofreading stage. It’s as though I look on the post with a brand new set of eyes once it is published. Very careless on my part, even though it’s just a hobby. When I was freelancing a few years back I had an editor/friend in Australia who did all that stuff for me.

      I don’t think I ever had to change a tire. Since I’m now car-less I don’t think I ever will. If you ever have to change a tyre for real please ensure you tighten those bolts. What a terrifying image you left me with. The Fast and Furious Stacey! lol

  7. selizabryangmailcom says:

    I know, I always go straight to the worst possible scenario. That’s why they call me Susie Sunshine. 🙂

    I think since blogging is pretty much a hobby for all of us we all know the reality of typos and understand what people are saying anyway. There’s not really enough time to re-read everything we write, is there?! But professional pride still lurks in the back of our consciousness, maybe, to keep it fairly clean and correct………….

  8. selizabryangmailcom says:

    🙂 🙂 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: