A beautiful film on faith, freedom and force.
It's the story of a nun who learns that she was of a different religion and explores the whereabouts of her parents grave along with a relative. The exploration speaks for itself and helps the girl Anna/Ida in understanding faith and life deeper. Anna as she was referred to, learns that she is actually Ida Lebenstein and even after understanding what she really was, she prepares herself to take the vows she wanted to take before.
After going through events that make her understand that life is much bigger than the veil she wore, she decides that she is not yet ready for that. Then, finally comes a point where she has to choose the life of a normal girl, that is get married and have family etc. She gets up and walks off wearing the dress she put off for a while. So the transition speaks so many things. It speaks I would say of freedom of the girl. Why should a girl be forced to commit something. Can a life be non-committal, can a life be drifting in faith. And as I was asked a question by my friend Raghuveer "How would a life be of a drifter, will drifters be respected?"
Based in the early 1960's the production design is immaculate. The music which was sporadic left me haunting. The music made me explore John Coltrane and as I am writing this review, Naima of John Coltrane is running in the background.
The cinematography is supreme and beautiful. It reminded me of a Japanese film maker Ozu whose framing was geometrically perfect. I love the use of black and white, it helps me stay with the characters and avoids being awed by the embellishments of colours. The composition of the frames is very important too. The close ups are framed at a low angle as if to let us know how small our face are, in the grandeur of things.
The performances were apt and the eyes of the protagonist Ida played by Agata Trzebuchowska were intriguing, I felt like her silence spoke a thousand words and there was a certain mystique which I fail to describe here. Also, Agata Kulesza who played the role her Aunt Wanda did a great job in displaying the much needed emotions. The film is hel by the relationship of Ida and Wanda and both the actors have justified their roles. They were well supported by the other cast to. The credit for the extraction of acting from a first timer who played Ida, must go to the director Pawel Pawlikowski.
The editing is superb too, it cuts all the unwanted frames and I felt though it cut abruptly, as I understood it more, I felt it was organic and right in the context of the film. With 80 minutes, this film has some good moments that can haunt for a long time.
War comes and leaves some terrible things for us. It's difficult even today to believe the damage done to Jews in the World War 2 or to those lakhs of civilians who have died for no fault of their own. This film recalls those memories to tell a story that even today stands universal.
Above all, it's a story of a lost child in search of identity. Kudos to the maker Pawel Pawlikowski and more power to his team and hopefully he brings out such films and also I hope he sticks to Black and White. I loved this and going with 4/5. Take time, watch this and trust me you won't forget the journey soon.