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:: Ida

“Ida” is not the kind of film that everybody will enjoy. It’s the kind of film that you need to watch and then go away on savour. Immediately after the film finishes you realise that director Pawel Pawlikowski has made “Ida” a bleak affair, but it is only after you have a chance to sit down and think about the film that you have just seen that you realise that this is a beautifully shot film that needs its bleakness to capture its true emotion.

The film is set in Poland in 1962. Sister Anna (newcomer Agata Trzebuchowska) is about to take her final vows and become a fully fledged Catholic nun. Never knowing her parents Anna is under the illusion that her parents died when she was young and that she grew up in a Catholic but as the ceremony nears the Mother Superior (Halina Skoczynska) suggests that he go and visit her only remaining relative.

Anna reluctantly travels away from the convent and soon finds herself face to face with her Aunt – Wanda Gruz (Agata Kulesza) an alcoholic magistrate. After an awkward meeting Wanda is horrified that Anna knows nothing about her past and soon tells her that she is in fact Jewish, is named Ida Lebenstein and that her entire family was killed during the Holocaust. Not one hundred per cent where the bodies are Wanda and Ida go on a journey of self-discovery.

Everything about this film is dark. Pawel Pawlikowski and cinematographer Lukasz Zal bring a dark foreboding feel to “Ida.” In most shots it is raining or foggy and that matches the slow-paced dreary script that plays with complete suspense despite its pace. It is the look of the film that makes it so beautiful in a dark kind of way.

The other powerful element of this film is the screenplay. There is no way you can ever predict what is going to happen next and to the credit of the screenplay the film continues to build in suspense as the film goes on. The more Ida uncovers the more the audience finds themselves on edge as she struggles to piece together her past, look after her fragile aunt and battle with her own spiritual demons now that she has learnt that she is Jewish. Pawilkowski even allows the film and its characters to take some really unexpected turns that are guaranteed to shock.

Come Oscar time and “Ida” deserves to be talked about as a film that should be nominated, likewise its two stars. Agata Trzebuchowska puts in one of best debut performances for an actress ever and she is guaranteed to become hot property for producers over the next few years. She is well matched with Agata Kulesza who puts in a seasoned performance and brilliantly portrays the troubled Wanda in a really memorable way.

With so many films coming out each year that focus on the Holocaust sometimes they seem to lose their impact. “Ida” isn’t one of those films though, the impact hits hard and this is a film that will be long remembered after the closing credits have rolled.