Anna, a young novitiate nun in 1960s Poland, is on the verge of taking her vows when she discovers a dark family secret dating back to the years of the Nazi occupation.
Pawel Pawlikowski’s film is a moving drama set against the backdrop of post war Poland, as it follows a young nun as she sets out to discover the truth of what happened to her Jewish parents during the war. The film picks up with ‘Anna’ just before her vows are taken, when she is sent to visit her Aunt Wanda and discovers that her name is actually Ida Lebenstein, and that her parents were murdered during the war. What happens next is that the film turns into part road movie, as Ida and her Aunt travel to locate her parents resting place, and part coming of age movie, as Ida’s innocence is gradually stripped away by the cruelty in her recent past.
Coming in at only 80 minutes, Pawlikowski and his cast do a remarkable job at developing these characters, shedding light on their shared history, and depicting their attempts to move on with their lives. The film is shot in black and white which is a wise choice for this type of movie – this is a quiet, contemplative film about a horrendous period in history and this choice creates a more sombre mood. The performances from Agata Trzebuchowska as Ida, and Agata Kulesza as Aunt Wanda, are both strong, as these women try to build a relationship from the ashes of the past.
Ida is a deeply compelling piece of cinema, moving and evocative, yet maintaining a distant feel through its cold landscapes and sombre characters – I thought it was excellent.
Directed By: Pawel Pawlikowski
Starring: Agata Trzebuchowska, Agata Kulesza, Joanna Kulig, Dawid Ogrodnik, Jerzy Trela and Adam Szyszkowski