Thursday, June 12, 2014


I saw two trailers before watching Ida. One presented it as a film about uncovering dark secrets of the holocaust and the other suggested it was about a nun being tempted by carnal pleasures (you've got to feel for whoever fell for the latter). It follows then, that as far as I'm concerned it's about neither.

Many critics have seen this film as a radical change of pace for Pawlikowski and while the formal elements may be new - black and white cinematography, 4:3 aspect ratio, compositions emphasising negative space and an editing strategy that gets right to the meat of scenes - the narrative elements strongly recall My Summer of Love. Most saliently there's a coming of age story in which a young woman tries on a new identity under the tutorledge of a somewhat dubious mentor. What makes Ida more interesting than that earlier film is that Anna/Ida attempts to reconcile multiple contradictory identities - that of a devoted nun, of a Jew, and of a woman of the world. Furthermore those identities come with accumulated historical and personal baggage - they're as much suffocating as they are freeing.

It's interesting too, albeit frustrating, to see that Pawlikowski's interest in religion is much the same as it is in My Summer of Love. Pawlikowski's not concerned with the content of Anna's beliefs or why she might believe or continue to believe. Instead he still sees religion as an ascetic lifestyle in direct opposition to sensuality (maybe he's one of the few people who could really benefit from watching Babette's Feast) and as a tool with which to deny aspects of oneself. Once again though, worldly life has its own share of traps and disappointments.

...And I can't believe I just spent most of that "review" talking about Ida's narrative, of all things. What a waste of space.

(PS: I should give Ida an extra half star for the score. The last time I really listened to jazz Trichotomy was called Misinterprotato. I'm off to remedy that now.)