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Ida
Year:
2013
Country:
UK, France, Poland, Denmark
Genre:
Drama
IMDB rating:
7.4
Director:
Pawel Pawlikowski
Jerzy Trela as Szymon
Mariusz Jakus as Barman
Jan Wociech Poradowski as Father Andrew
Artur Janusiak as Policeman
Afrodyta Weselak as Marysia
Agata Kulesza as Wanda
Storyline: Poland, 1962. Anna, an orphan brought up by nuns in the convent, is a novice. She has to see Wanda, the only living relative, before she takes her vows. Wanda tells Anna about her Jewish roots. Both women start a journey not only to find their family's tragic story, but to see who they really are and where they belong. They question what they used to believe in.
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Reviews
Personal and collective versions of the past collide.
Drastically different versions of the past, both personal and collective, collide in this beautiful black and white exploration into religion, politics, family and the lives and chosen identities of two intriguing women. Ida is an introverted orphan who is about to take her vows in the Catholic Church. She is sent to spend time with her outgoing and unrestrainable aunt, who Ida has never met. Her aunt is a judge known as "Red Wanda" who is merciless in the prosecution of the enemies of the socialist state. Wanda has lately tired of her socialist fervor and drifted into an alcohol induced depression. The appearance of Ida encourages Wanda to dig into their collective roots together. Set in the 1960s, the unlikely pair set off across the countryside to look deeper into mysteries of their past that are in curiously variable states of being unknown, known and intentionally buried. They meet a saxophone player who entrances Ida with Coltrane and tells her, in her religious garb, "you have no idea of the effect you have do you?!" The acting, cinematography, directing and story lines are all superb. The only thing lacking is support from major benefactors. I appreciated that the film took place in Lodz, where relatives of mine once lived. I especially enjoyed the juxtaposition of quiet Ida with explosive Wanda. "Your Jesus didn't hide in caves," Wanda maintains, "he went out into the world and adored people like me."
2014-11-15
Quiet, and stunning
This is one of those cinema experiences which inevitably lead me into complete incoherence. There is no way I can effectively quantify or qualify the feelings engendered by the film, so I'll just jot down some more or less random impressions:

This is, literally and figuratively, a very quiet movie. The themes are huge, but the presentation is never strident. The arguments are very calmly placed in front of us, there is no special pleading; and the score reflects this. There was a very slight, low frequency hum pervading one of the later reels in the print I saw at the Clay Theater, which was driving me slightly barmy: I can't remember the last movie I've seen in which I would have noticed it.

What we have here is one of those works of art which makes me want to revisit other works of art. The opening sequence, of novitiates carrying a sculpture of Jesus into a snow-filled courtyard, reminded me Anton Corbijn's photography for Joy Division's Closer album, and his cinematography of their "Atmosphere" video. At various points I made silent vows to listen to Coltrane's Giant Steps, reread Hesse's Narciss und Goldmund, and listen to Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony, which, oddly enough, I woke up to this morning.

In Something Like an Autobiography, Akira Kurosawa expresses concern for the plight of Takashi Shimura, a wonderful actor, who Kurosawa felt was overshadowed by Toshiro Mifune in Drunken Angel. Something analogous occurred to me here: Agata Kulesza turns in a yeoman-like performance as the slightly jaded Wanda: but Agata Trzebuchowska absolutely seizes the camera, and never lets it go. She is just compulsively watchable.

And lastly, if I ever commit suicide, I will definitely be using the "Jupiter" Symphony as a soundtrack.
2014-05-28
The difference between the 'being' and the 'thinking' self
Ida is a film about the difference between the' thinking self' and the 'being self.'

Though most of the film focuses on Anna's face, especially her eyes, we never have a sense of the specifics of her interior life. Indeed when her one -night lover asks what she is 'thinking about' she can calmly reply 'nothing' . However because we have come to know her capacity for compassion (her pieta embrace of her aunt) and wonder (the joy of discovering the Jazz master Coltrane) we intuitively know 'nothing' is in fact 'something'; but it is not the something that her lover has just proposed for their future ( marriage, a house and children, then just 'life') ; it is a 'something that the final scene carries her to as she returns to the nunnery, not as a conventional Catholic but as one who has tested herself and freely chosen the inner over the outer life, the life of the spirit over the life of the senses. She has followed her aunt's advice to find out what 'temptations' she will give up by taking her vows. For her, it is not a matter of abstaining from pleasure, but finding the pleasure that gives meaning to her life. That truth of 'being' is not the platitudes of mere 'religion' . It is her aunt's dismissive taunt, 'oh, yes but of course you think God is everywhere', which is the truth that Ida is now finally 'ready' for. The car headlights of the material world recede into the distance as she moves farther and farther forward, filling the screen with her quiet, knowing resolve .

It is not a path that her aunt Wanda could have taken . She has never found the outer or inner sanctuary that was gifted to Ida by the otherwise murderous country family that handed her over to the local priest knowing that the Jewish baby (with the birth name of Ida) could 'pass'. Compared to Anna's , Wanda's is a tortured face in which we can read her deepest and darkest thoughts—her unrelenting suffering revealed and unrelieved. Riven by the murder of her sister and brother in law -Ida's parents- and the 'too dark and circumcised ' son she abandoned to fight in a war that only brought a puppet communism to Poland, she is killing her self with drink, driving and destructive sexual encounters. Unable to forgive herself or to make the connection to Ida that might save her Wanda bathes herself, fills her apartment with a loud and haunting recording of classical music, then abruptly swan dives through an open window to certain death.

But does the last vision of Anna/Ida heading back to the isolated convent mean she has found the better way to live? Does the beatified Catholic represent some absolute truth that denies any meaning to the life of the suicided Jew? In fact, neither on its own is a convincing path. They are, they must be, as the two women themselves are—-related and intertwined. The ineffable life of pure being that Ida chooses is a 'way' but it cannot exist in the real world of our full thinking selves . We have to know not just the 'life' that the callow lover promises but the violence pain and tragedy which which makes us – like Rozca —fully human . The film is finally a tragic vision of the divided self , the 'being' Ida , the 'thinking' Wanda —- two who could have, but yet could not, make the human connection that might have allowed them both to fully live in the real world. (for more reviews see annepetrie.wordpress.com
2015-01-13
Hope is the sexiest thing on the planet!
*** This review may contain spoilers *** I appreciate a movie with an elevating allegorical subplot. With all its grand tragedy, this movie is about hope. Hope that there is meaning to life and its known where that hope can be found. That's real hope; that's worthwhile hope.Ida is a young woman in her early twenties. She grew up in a convent in Poland after World War ll. She speaks little, moves gracefully, acts reverently, and provides a beautiful and haunting image. Ida is preparing to take her final vows when she is called into Mother Superior's office and told that she still has one living relative and she must see her before taking her vows.Ida leaves the convent for virtually the first time to meets her aunt. She acquaints herself with her history. She learns that she was born to Jewish parents. During the War her parents and cousin (her aunt's son) were brutally murdered by a neighbor during the tumult of the holocaust period. Questions must be settled.

This unlikely pair journey to the countryside where they were raised to find answers to these questions. Amazingly, they learn the details of the death of their family and where their bodies were buried. Jewish burial laws are quite extensive and specific, so learning this sad history was an essential task. They are able to collect the bones and rebury them properly. Parenthetically, an attractive and talented young musician enters the picture. He is playing a gig at the hotel where Ida and her aunt, Wanda, are staying. Ida and he connect. It's an innocent relationship, Ida's first interaction with a man.

Wanda, is hard on the outside, but warm inside. She is an unhappy woman with no hope .She likes alcohol. Her life is occurrence after occurrence with no rhyme or reason. It appears that this journey and the answers it provided were the only meaning to her existence no matter how painful the experience was. Remember, her only son was a victim of this brutality as well.

After the journey, life returns to normal, well sort of. Wanda retreats to her old self with one exception. She can no longer stomach living her life devoid of meaning or joy. She continues to cover up with liquor, unrequited sex, anger, and depression. Unfortunately, this led to her committing suicide. It's a shock reflecting the hopelessness of her life.

Ida returns to the city for her aunt's funeral. Afterwards, she goes on a worldly binge journey filled with liquor, a sexual relationship, dressing up, you get the idea, all within a short time and in a protected environment. She searches to see if another existence is worth living. Therefore, she experiments with the accouterments of life as taught to her and left behind to her by her aunt. She appears as devoid of excitement in experimenting with these toys as she was when she first arrived. Her convent life is regimented, ruled, and regulated. The security and devotional experience that the convent bestows has now cracked open to let judgment creep in. She sees an alternative available to her. She sees that her live has also been a limited experimental existence.

As a sidebar, there's another reason for this experimentation. At one point her aunt says to her, "you should have worldly experiences (she means sexual experiences) in order to have something to sacrifice, otherwise what have you given up for convent life?" She says this rather sarcastically, but Ida takes it seriously as sarcasm is not part of her awareness. Tthe film doesn't exactly paint a rosy picture of convent life. This film is shot in black and white, on a square screen format, reminiscent of the bleak time period, and has a depressing view of Poland and its people.The convent is shown in a very "Dickensoneon" way. So, Ida's judgment is limited to these two differing life experiences.

The beautiful telling line comes as Ida and her lover are lying on the bed. The young man says, (paraphrased) "come to the beach with me and we will walk together." "Then what," Ida asks? "We'll get a dog. We'll get married, we'll have kids, we'll do the usual," was his answer. "Then what," Ida asks again? The blank look on her face tells it all. This experimental life didn't lead anywhere better than what she had and her lover had no answers beyond what she had already experienced. There was hope in her old life; there was none here.

So, back to the convent she went. As she entered the gates, a smile of hope was gently displayed on her lips. There's so much to this story that I've only discussed the major issues. There are other issues like this film's attempt (and, in my opinion successfully) at dealing with Poland's unattractive part of its past.

Ida lived a sheltered life. She only had two choices – that can be a good thing or not. In this case, it was very good. As drab, isolated, and restricted as her convent life was, nevertheless, it gave her an experience which, when weighted against the experimental worldly one, proved to be elevated and hopeful.The worldly experiment offered her nothing more than an immediate experience, while the convent afforded her security, relevance, reverence and hope for much more.

There are very few films that elicit such gratitude in me. So often films are only looking to elicit emotion. This movie is a rare exception. It's a masterpiece in this respect. Gratitude is the great physical expression of love and devotion and this is the highest spiritual path. This movie took me to this most sacred place. Yes, Wanda is a tragic figure and we know, sadly that the world is full of very sad Wanda's. The world is not full of Ida's. She follows her higher self and that's unusual, to be respected, and, if we're lucky, to provide an experience of gratitude.
2014-06-19
Ida + Anna = Vir-IDI-ANA
Ida seems to be a polemic response to Bunuel's Viridiana (1961). Indeed, 5 or 6 similarities can be notified. First: Anna, a young novice nun has to visit her aunt Wanda just before she takes her vow. Viridiana also is asked by her Madre Superior to visit her uncle Don Jaime, before the vow. Second: both Ana and Viridiana inherit the house of the dead relative. Third: the action in both movies is happening in 1961. Both movies are black&white. And the major clue is the name of characters: Ida + Anna vs. Viridiana. But in rest, Ida is completely different.

Thus, while Viridiana is an anti-catholic satire, and his character lamentably fails in her religious path, Ida shows a deep attachment to the monastery's life. The catholicism, generally speaking the religion, remains always a good way, no matter any economical, political or national contexts.
2015-07-19
Beautiful and Haunting
The beautiful photography - in Ansel Adams shades of treys to blacks - and insistence created through pacing that you pause - come to a full stop -work for these two wonderful actresses and the subject matter. The director sets up the scene to that the viewer cannot avoid seeing the faces and the settings, and consider what is happening now and what happened in the past -

Like another reviewer, I came away wondering why wasn't it called "Wanda" - the aunt being one of the most complex characters you are likely to encounter in modern film. But Ida provides the open eyes

...who in the end incorporates at least some of her aunt's spirit ...
2014-05-22
The Power of Subtlety and Silence in Cinema !!!!
Before deciding to watching Ida, I did not know what to expect. I was optimistic about its chances to impress me, but in the end not only did it impress me, I was for the lack of a more appropriate word, floored.

First and foremost, the film looks nothing like what you would expect a 2014 film to look like and this is not because of the fact that it is in black and white, but because of its cinematography. This has the look of a 1960s French New Wave film and some scenes are also very visually Bergman-esque.

The style of storytelling is slow and demands the patience of the viewer. The director has clearly used a very visual form of storytelling by doing away with expositional dialogues. So much is conveyed and implied through visuals through facial expressions, random gestures, the lighting, visual symbolism,etc. Paweł Pawlikowski expects the viewer to be extremely attentive and I love it when the director expects his audience to be perceptive.

The two main characters of Ida/Anna and Wanda are expertly portrayed by Agata Trzebuchowska and Agata Kulesza. I completely fell in love with Agata's eyes, they are so damn expressive and have a hypnotic beauty about them. The acting like the film itself is also very subtle and understated. The actors talk very little,yet they speak so much with just their eyes.

The film is about religion, war, prejudice, sexual and cerebral awakening, family and many other things. The movie is inexpressibly profound. The director deserves all the credit in the world for showing that a film as artistic as this and as visual as this can still be made at this day and age. I absolutely adore this film. It is a freaking masterpiece.
2015-01-16
Unbelievable disappointment
I had wanted to watch this for a long time, and was prompted by the Oscar, but it turned out to be a total disappointment. The shootings were terrible -half the movie you see the grey sky and the top of the heads of the characters, feeling like wanting to pull down the screen - I think that was a useless and meaningless way of filming. Besides, even if the story could have been interesting, it turned out to be partially easy to guess. As compared to other movies that ran into the competition for thee Oscar for a foreign movie, this is far below any expectations for a true lover of any cinema, especially European. On the other hand it's a pity, as the two female characters play well.
2015-03-14
Austere, involving, human - a profound masterwork
"Ida" is a Polish film (with subtitles), set around 1960; the title character is a young novitiate, about to take her vows to become a cloistered nun in the convent where she had grown up as an orphan. The senior nun (abbess? prioress?) tells Ida that she has an aunt and instructs the girl to visit with her before she takes her vows. Dutifully, Ida travels outside the convent to meet her aunt Wanda, who informs her that she is Jewish. I found "Ida" to be as effective as "Sophie's Choice," yet more subdued (there are, for example, no flashbacks). The black & white cinematography is gorgeous in its austerity, the major characters are all complicatedly human – I would not be surprised with a couple of Oscar nominations. If you can find it in your local theaters, go see it on the big screen. I think you will be changed.
2014-07-16
Ida down
This is a quiet, almost still film about guilt, identity and life-choices. Photographed in black and white, it's unstinting in its austerity and bleakness as it posits a young novitiate Polish nun named Anna who just before she takes her final vows is urged by her Mother Superior to go out into the world under the reluctant stewardship of her long-absent aunt and make her mind up definitely about her fate.

Said aunt is a judge in the grey early 60's Communist time but who in a past life was a member of the Jewish resistance, now struggling with her past guilt and current duties as well as her abiding loneliness fuelled by her propensity to drink and indulging in casual sex. It's she who reveals to Anna her true identity as a Jew born of parents murdered during the war by non-Jewish Polish nationals who stole their property in so doing.

The film explores their uneasy relationship as the aunt, at first unwillingly but later, compelled by the need to exorcise her own demons and sense of familial responsibility to the young girl, digs deeper into the past to find their true selves. Along the way they encounter a young jazz musician who seems to open up for Anna / Ida the prospect of a conventional life. The film ends however with both women making irrevocable choices which only confirm the gloominess of all that has gone before.

Only 82 minutes long, for me I still found it dragged itself to its necessary conclusion in a way that strained my patience and interest. The young first-time actress in the lead merely projects a mask-like persona which somehow failed to inspire any sympathy in me. Perhaps Ida was deadened by her experience in the convent but after finding out the true history of herself and her family and experiencing drink and sex soon afterwards, the film ends with her donning again her nun's clothing and hurrying back to the convent.

I couldn't work out whether the film was thus criticising the mundane dehumanising Communist regime or making an even bigger point about the purity of a sacred life as against the travails of a profane one, but ultimately the coldness of the photography and indeed the characters failed to really engage me and make me care about their fates. The film is beautifully shot, but in a pretentious art-house manner (characters depicted off-centre in the frame, long pauses, no movement) which ultimately for me went against the humanity at the heart of these troubled individuals.

I understand the earnest pretensions of the film-maker but ultimately my curiosity in the characters and their disparate, desperate lives was nullified by the dullness of what was put on the screen.
2015-01-04
See Also
Download Drama Ida movie UK, France, Poland, Denmark with english subtitles DVD-rip mpeg4 avi & mp4, download Ida (2013) 1080p h264 mkv, iPhone xvid mov & mpeg4 mp4, Jerzy Trela, Mariusz Jakus, Jan Wociech Poradowski, Artur Janusiak, Afrodyta Weselak, Agata Kulesza, Natalia Lagiewczyk, Halina Skoczynska, Adam Szyszkowski, Agata Trzebuchowska, Dorota Kuduk, Joanna Kulig, Izabela Dabrowska, Dawid Ogrodnik, Anna Grzeszczak.
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