Ida Screen 20 articles

Ida

2013

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  • What matters is not the ring of truth but the ring of specificity. The movie is dematerialized; it never conveys the sense that “this happened” or “this is happening,” but, rather, that “this sort of thing happened.” Nothing in the film is a solid thing or an action; everything is an example... The evenhandedly editorializing accusations that Pawlikowski builds stealthily into the movie are repellent.

  • What we have in Ida, essentially, is a kind of amalgamation of the Kieślowski of The Decalogue with the Kieślowski of Trois couleurs and La double vie de Véronique (1991). While Ida’s visual style is part of a recognizably Polish variant of a contemplative filmmaking tradition that has yielded some very fine contemporary manifestations in Turkey, Portugal, and elsewhere, its ideology feels pan-European in the most pejorative sense...

  • Bored of 'mismatched couple on a road trip of self-discovery', bored of Jews in WW2, bored of the conspicuously inert festival style, esp. when it's just a default style instead of being used creatively - e.g. there's a really strange shot when Ida makes the deal with the villager (a wide low-angle shot, as if to say that God disapproves) but it doesn't turn out to be significant; what's the use of a 'rigorous' style if you don't make the rigour mean something?

  • [Pawlikowski's] most prominent compositional strategy, shoving characters into the lower corners of the frame, is baffling and ugly. Shot after shot emphasizes the empty space above Ida and Wanda’s heads, and it’s unclear whether this is meant to minimize them (small people in a vast world?) or pointedly situate them in relation to their architectural environments. Either way, this makes it harder still to ignore just how few ideas are at play here, and how limply even those are dramatized.

  • What rankles—what is in fact, grueling—about this perfectly well made art film is how little it risks. Its title character’s realization of her Jewish heritage (and attendant spiritual dislocation) is so predictable—and acted with such requisite woman-of-marble blankness by non-pro Agata Trzebuchowska—that any frisson is purely conceptual.

  • Despite its heavy historical themes, Ida is more a character study than an ideological statement. Both the women are strongly written, and undergo arcs that are layered rather than engulfed by their political backstories. And the script, though sparse, is as comic as it is naturalistic.

  • Ida is an exquisitely rendered artifact that nonetheless becomes truer for holding its diminutive shape against such weighted material, something like finding a lost Zbigniew Herbert poem scrawled on a kielbasa wrapper.

  • The film's aesthetic recalls early Melville, Bergman, and, yes, Rossellini, and there are more than a few moments when Pawlikowski's elegant vision feels as if it's repressing the harsher pains of certain experiences, such as Wanda's desperate alcoholism and her and Ida's interactions with the townsfolk that hid their family. Ida is unmistakably alert to its artifice, however, as the monochromatic images and allusions to pre-New Wave influences... give an overt air of classicism.

  • There are echoes of Bergman and Wenders to the film’s measured pacing, minimalist design and religious undertones, yet no real auteurist comparison does the film justice. Pawlikowksi has crafted a uniquely spartan film that charts the ripple effect of history on the everyday person, proving that secrets can be repressed only for so long. The film also suggests that faith and sin can exist in the same moment without shame or judgment. Reducing life to one or the other feels like a cheat.

  • In festival-going, a certain tension begins to mount the longer that you have to wait to see the first thing that you really like. In this particular case, my dry spell was broken by Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida... a film which stood head and shoulders above anything else in competition... Shooting in icily-rimmed black-and-white and with the too-little-utilized 1.33:1 Academy aspect ratio, Pawlikowski exploits the boxy frame, composing to emphasize the canopying space over characters.

  • The effect is somewhere between incredible beauty and mounting discomfort: a direct reflection of how sheltered Ida views the strange, terrifying world she’s thrust into. And, as the story unfolds and the outrages pile up like corpses, it’s impossible not to be thrown in there with her, standing helplessly by as life’s cruelty becomes ever more horribly apparent. Pawlikowski’s film may be bleak and unforgiving, but it’s also richly sympathetic and deeply moving.

  • Director Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Ida,” set in Poland less than 20 years after World War II, has the precise, image-building control of a short story. The film is both delicate and unforgettable. The black-and-white compositions and the lighting at times evoke religious paintings, even as the cars and shabby nightclubs announce that the 1960s are here.

  • Ida is a much more worldly and hard-edged film than it initially seems. What’s more, at a concise 80 minutes, it doesn’t linger more than necessary on any shot, Jaroslaw Kaminski’s editing bringing the drama a bracingly crisp edge... Ida still doesn’t give us a clearer idea of who Pawel Pawlikowski is—but it’s good to see him on his best form in some time, whether or not he decides to continue as the reborn Polish director who’s made this compelling quasi-debut.

  • Riveting, original and breathtakingly accomplished on every level, "Ida" would be a masterpiece in any era, in any country... Besides its look, "Ida" most recalls the manner of bygone art films in the modernist spareness and thoroughgoing obliqueness of its writing. Very little is stated directly; instead, we glean things from casual remarks and subtle suggestions. Somehow, this technique of inference makes the film’s eventual revelations feel both more integral and more powerful.

  • In a smart bit of casting, Pawlikowski pits a professional against a non-actor, but you cannot really tell which is which. A powerful personality to rattle Ida’s faith, Wanda is vibrant and ferocious. She puffs cigarettes forcefully, exhaling in tight-lipped streams of smoke aimed down instead of skyward... Ida, meanwhile, has a quiet stoicism, silently conveying surprise, pain, dread, pensiveness, and wisdom, playing off against Wanda’s boisterous frankness.

  • Bressonian in its austerity, Ida is Pawlikowski’s most beautiful film yet. Though unleavened by humor, it makes a few concessions to 1960s modernity.

  • It's Pawlikowski's use of the Academy ratio that solidifies the connection to early-60s eastern European cinema. Throughout Ida Pawlikowski emphasizes the height of the screen by placing characters near the bottom of the frame and reserving the top two-thirds or so for negative space. This approach to framing recalls Czech director Frantisek Vlacil's groundbreaking early features The White Dove (1960) and The Devil's Trap (1962), as well as the 1960 Polish film Mother Joan of the Angels...

  • [Ida] is a spare, haunting piece of minimalism, opening in silence on a black-and-white close-up of a young novice, the broad planes of her face calling to mind a young Renée Jeanne Falconetti. But if this convent-set overture primes us to expect a meditation on faith in the style of Dreyeror Bresson, what we get is both far simpler and even more profound, a still water that runs unspeakably deep.

  • Ida, from a certain perspective, is an unusual, wisely and economically told coming-of-age story; an unbiased, depoliticized and relatable portrayal of in fact a very particular, local, politically and religiously involved, yet universal subject matter. Pawlikowski lets the silence speak; and it does, proving that less is sometimes not more, but everything.

  • For Pawlikowski, working for the first time on film in his native Polish, this is more than a return to form after 2011's The Woman in the Fifth: it’s immaculately, even a little self-consciously, a masterwork. There’s something eerily perfect about it, quite complete.

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