Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hey Little Sister What Have You Done?

Ida (2013) - Pawlikowski
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Sister Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska) is an war orphan who is about to take a vow. The Mother Superior tells her that her only known relative, aunt Wanda (Agata Kulesza) finally contacted her and Anna is to leave the convent and stay with Wanda before committing herself to God.

Chain smoking and boozy, aunt Wanda is kind of a mess- a guilt ridden Jewess war survivor, she became a judge hell bent on revenge. She tells Anna that her name actual name is Ida Lebenstein, a daughter of a Jewish couple who perished in the war.

Together they take a trip to find out what happened to Ida's parents. They confront a Polish farmer who might or might not have killed Ida's family during the Nazi occupation of Poland. During the trip, Ida also attracts attentions from a young jazz saxophone player who is playing at the hotel they are staying in.

Picturesque full frame photography and great use of negative space, Ida is a breathtakingly gorgeous film (shot by Lukascz Zal). Every frame is a work of art. Doesn't hurt that luminous first-timer Trzebuchowska is in almost every frame. Also there are no wasted moments - clocking at mere 80 minutes, the film is a remarkably lean experience.

The family tragedy befallen under Nazi occupation isn't the main draw here. While Wanda seems to carry around the weight of the war past, Ida literally buries the hatchet. The film is rather a loving character study of a young woman who represents a clean break from the past. Clear eyed, reserved Ida is at once naive enough not to realize her dimples have enormous effects on the opposite sex and wise beyond her years to know what she wants.

Further tragedy strikes and Ida comes back to Łódź. Alone in the apartment left for her, she thinks about exploring the world that she never lived. With beautiful black and white imagery accompanied by John Coltrane tunes, Pawlikowski's Poland in 60s is as irresistible to us as is to our little Sister. This little vacillation or the test that she sets herself in, provides one of the loveliest movie sequence in history, accentuated by Trzebuchowska's unassuming beauty.

Ida is one of those quiet, artfully crafted little masterpieces that goes unnoticed in dead of Spring movie season. I haven't seen anything this year that is more lovelier than this. Don't miss seeing this film in theaters.

Ida opens May 2 in New York and LA. National roll out will follow. For more information please visit Music Box Films website

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