Saturday, 15 November 2014


Sometimes I feel caught between my desires for films that are more thoughtful and artistic than mainstream North American films but more accessible and entertaining than highbrow European films. Ida by Polish director, Pawlikowski, is one of those that fits perfectly in between. 

It’s filmed in black and white with an artistic eye so simple and elegant (think Vermeer) that you could frame dozens of beautiful stills. The artistic side is heightened by a pacing in the scenes that allows you to sink into the moment and think deeply about what might be going on within the main character (Anna, a young novitiate nun who has grown up as an orphan in a convent). 

Now, thus far, this might sound like it tips more toward the kind of arthouse European fare that drags on mercilessly why you pretend you are moved by the sombre, existentialist themes (or fall asleep or leave the room). But in spite of the artistic eye and the gentle pacing of the scenes, the plot is fascinating and somehow manages to move on at quite a clip (though it’s true that it does this partly by large leaps during which you sometimes have to fill in the gaps with thought and imagination).

The result is a film that is moving and thought-provoking. If you enter in, you’ll have stepped into a context that is most likely different from any you have considered before. The acting is of the quality that you forget to notice they are acting. This one is in the running for one of the top couple of spots for my best movie of the year. **** and a mug up high.


  1. This has been on my wish list. Now it's even higher. I can't wait.

  2. Finally got to watch this tonight. Having just now read your review, I am amazed how many of your thoughts were going through my mind as I watched this. But while I agree with everything you say, I would put Ida very firmly into the European arthouse category, albeit a European art film that is more accessible than many of its closest siblings. Indeed, it seems to be deliberately styled after European films of the time in which the story takes place (e.g. Bergman and Dreyer). Ida is a work of art on many levels and deserves no less than the **** you gave it. Two mugs up high, and a place in my top ten of 2014, though probably not as high as you will put it.