★ ★ ★ ★ out of 5
Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski
Starring Agata Trzebuchowska as Anna
Agata Kulesza as Wanda
Anna is a nun in 1960s Poland who is about to take her vows when she is given a chance to meet her one living family member, her aunt Wanda, who can tell her the dark secrets that lay behind her family history.
Ida is a haunting film with an incredible story, full of some really interesting themes that kept me thinking for days afterwards. I think what really got me thinking the most in Ida though was not the story or the themes, but the cinematography. Filmed in black and white with the aspect ratio of an old photograph, and mostly using the bottom part of the frame also to resemble an old photograph. The cinematography looks stunning by itself, despite the fact that I didn’t like the look of the lower frame stuff at first, but I got used to it. However, the cinematography is even more stunning when you think about what the directorial choices are trying to say. The way that it’s shot resembles Carl Theodore Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc, using a lot of whites and grays. Then of course there’s a ton of significance to making it look like an old polaroid picture, that shows we’re watching events unfold in the past, we’re not watching it unfold in the present, we’re watching past events as though we’re looking through old family photographs. For that, I think the cinematography is gorgeous, and the direction is done quite well. The one thing I have to say to take away from the film is that even though it was thought provoking and by all accounts an incredibly done film, I can’t say I enjoyed watching it. I would not want to watch it again, even though I think it’s a great film, I can’t say I really “liked” it. Ida is probably objectively one of the best films of the year, full of amazing thematic content, some incredibly smart directorial choices, and a good story, yet subjectively, I have a hard time liking it as much as it deserves to be liked.