by Allan Fish
Ida (Poland 2013 80m) DVD2 (Poland only)
Travels With My Aunt
p Piotr Dzieciol, Eva Puszczynska, Eric Abraham d Pawel Pawlikowski w Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Pawel Pawlikowski ph Ryszard Lenczewski, Lucasz Zal ed Jaroslaw Kaminski m Kristian Eidnes Andersen art Katarzyna Sobanska-Strzalkowska, Marcel Slawinski
Ageta Kulesza (Wanda Gruz), Agata Trzebuckowska (Ida Lebenstein), Dawid Ogrolnik (Lis), Jerzy Trela (Szymon), Joanna Kulig (singer), Adam Szyszkowski (Feliks), Halina Skoczynska (mother superior),
The critical and financial failure of Pawel Pawlikowski’s misjudged 2011 film The Woman in the Fifth, coming after seven years after his previous film (the much better received My Summer of Love) could have been enough to have some commentators wondering if he could recover from it. So when Ida was announced for the London Film Festival in the autumn of 2013, I was trying to put his last misfire to the back of my mind. Unable to attend the festival, it was on DVD that I was always likely to see it first. But nothing could really prepare me for what I was about to see.
Ida is really several films in one; not narratively speaking, but thematically. Set in 1962, it follows young Ida, an orphan at a convent who is informed that she must speak to her only living relative before she is able to take her vows. This relative, her Aunt Wanda, is a former state prosecutor well respected inside the party but who has turned more and more to promiscuity and drink. She tells Ida that her parents were actually Jewish and died during the war, murdered before they could even be sent to their deaths at the Nazis’ factories of death. Ida and Wanda agree on a trip to see the primitive house where her family once resided and there come up against a wall of silence from those now living there. They are sent on a wild goose chase, during which time Ida meets a young musician. Finally they learn the truth about Ida’s parents’ death, but how will the two women react to this final act of closure? (more…)