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Ida *****

I’ve got another film for you.

It probably won’t be around for long (pity). And it may not even show up where you live. But if you can find it somehow (Netflix?), go out of your way to watch it. I think it’s probably best to see it on as big a screen as possible, but however you can see it, I suspect you’ll be enthralled.

At least we were.

140501_MOV_IdaMovie.jpg.CROP.promo-mediumlarge Briefly, it’s the story of an 18-year old young woman Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska) about to take her vows to become a nun. She was orphaned to a convent as a very young girl and doesn’t know much about the outside world. The Mother Superior tells her she has one living relative, an aunt, and before taking her vows, she must go see this woman, Wanda (Agneta Kulesza)

What unfolds from there is a series of discoveries, not the the least of which is that her name is not Anna. It’s Ida. And as she discovers her story, her world is is thrown into confusion.

No further spoilers.

I can tell you that the film is beautifully made. It is filmed entirely in black and white, and virtually every scene could become a powerful photograph itself. The director, Pawel Pawlikowski, doesn’t rush anything and gives the viewer the time to soak in the story and also time enough to appreciate the beauty and starkness of each scene.

Ida is a short film, just 80 minutes and is in Polish with English subtitles. It is Ida’s story, but it’s also the story of her aunt and what happened to their family in Poland during the time of the Nazi occupation. It’s a personal story with historical roots.

The two performances are simply terrific and will likely stay with you long after the film ends. It is Trzebuchowskia’s (Anna/Ida) first film, though you’d never know that unless someone so informed you. Kulesza (Wanda), likewise, gives a powerful performance.

(Perhaps an additional reason I was touched by the film relates to a trip I took about a decade ago to Lithuania with my father, brother-in-law and cousin. We went to a small town, Eisiskes, to try to understand my father’s roots {his mother had emmigrated from this town in the first decade of the 1900s}. Yet even though we were there almost 40 years later than the time period of Ida, the early 1960s, the film brought me back to our trip and what I saw and learned when we were there.  Know, however, that my wife Ellen, who had not been on our trip to Eisiskes, thought Ida was a “terrific film.”

If you don’t mind a few spoilers, see this two minute trailer for Ida.

Update: May 28, 2014. Thanx to alert reader Tim M, I just read David Denby’s May 27th review of Ida in The New Yorker. It’s just terrific. You might want to save it until you’ve seen the film. But do take a look: “Ida” – a Film Masterpiece.