First-Time Viewings in 2015: #12

5:39 PM

#12 Ida (2013) dir. Pawal Pawlikowski

There’s this gorgeous Russian film from 2010 that my friend told me to watch called Silent Souls. It’s about two friends who go on a journey to cremate one of their wives’ body. The whole movie is this beautiful reflection on life and death and sex and it’s so perfectly haunted in its execution. I can’t help but compare that feeling to Ida, a Polish black and white film about a nun on the verge of taking her vows. It takes place in the ’60s but at times feels far more ancient as we travel back to buried secrets from just after the end of Nazi occupation. I’m adoring this trend right now of quiet, reflective films shot in black & white - Nebraska (2014), Frances Ha (2012), Ida (2013). It really allows you to focus on the stillness of the characters. With Ida, you have this gorgeous, dramatic cinematography that feels very German expressionist, which really sets the tone for the film - almost a little bit foreboding. That’s coupled with lots of wide shots, mostly static and so serene. What might be the most compelling shots though are the choice close-ups. Each one has a uncomfortable amount of headspace; sometimes, all we see the tops of heads at the bottom of the screen. I’m reminded of La passion de Jeanne d’Arc and the religious implications of its dramatic closeups. It makes me think that perhaps the reason for so much headspace in Ida is to underline the importance of a Godly presence overhead in Ida's life. At one point in the film, there's a glimpse into a life without the convent, and you believe for a moment that Ida might renounce the life of a nun. But you're brought back to those frames with the heightened headspace and it's as if a constant but subdued message penetrates the film: faith prevails. 

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