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.