Starring: Agata Kulesza, Agata Trzebuchowska, Dawid Ogrodnik
Directed By: Pawel Pawlikowski
Written By: Pawel Pawlikowski, Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 1 hr 22 min
I approach the review of Ida with a great deal of trepidation. Because so far this Golden Globe nominated film seems to be beloved by all. And in this world of anonymously delivered hateful comments via the web, even the most articulate critical commentary about a film like this, can result in a certain amount of abuse. So let me start by saying I’m sorry. I didn’t really care for Ida.
I wanted to, and I was certainly excited to see it appear in my NetFlix streaming account. And as a former student of photography, I was certainly impressed with how each shot was assembled and presented. Not so much flirting with the ‘rule of thirds’, as much as completely abandoning them to express the thematic elements in this story. But while this was interesting, it did occasionally get distracting during scenes with dialog. As my eyes tried to simultaneously take in and appreciate the composition, but also read the subtitles, which would occasionally shift their position within the frame.
I generally (but not always) respond better to a more pragmatic approach to storytelling. Especially when the story is set in an unfamiliar time and place, and includes elements I don’t know much about. In this case, Poland in 1962, taking a road trip with two women (one being a novitiate Catholic nun) searching for answers as to the fate and location of lost family members.
As a forty something agnostic living in California, I personally would have appreciated more development time for Ida (Agata Trzebuchowska) and her aunt, Wanda (Agata Kulesza). Because as it was played, with beautifully composed black and white shots of people staring blanking into space, or at each other (usually for 2 or 3 seconds longer than seemed natural.) I wasn’t able to connected to these characters, or root for a successful attainment of their goals.
That’s not to say all films must be set within a certain geographical location and time period to suit me. But if you are going to send me back in time to some foreign location to hangout with a nun. I personally would have appreciated more time to acclimatize to the setting and characters – beyond trying to find any potential meaning hidden within each gorgeously framed scene. But that’s just me, and the beautiful thing about film criticism is, I’m not wrong, and if you adored this film, neither are you.
At 82 minutes, this film won’t take up much of your time, and if you enjoy slower paced stories that challenge you, this might entertain. If you’re like me, and require good character development and a more emotive film going experience, then this film will be tough to get through. Anyone who appreciates good black and white photography should check this film out.
This film utilizes a 4:3 aspect ratio – closer to the same dimensions of your old TV shows rather than a modern digital wide-screen film. So expect black space on the left and right hand sides of your screen. This film would look great in a theater, but would also work well on a HDTV.
Ryszard Lenczewski’s and Lukasz Zal’s cinematography for me is the single best reason to see this film.