A passionate love story between two people of different backgrounds and temperaments, who are fatefully mismatched, set against the background of the Cold War in the 1950s in Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris.
Pawel Pawlikowski’s follow up to the critically acclaimed ‘Ida’ is another film that explores the long lasting effects of the Second World War on the citizens of Poland, focusing this time on a couple of musicians who fall in love against the backdrop of communism. Like ‘Ida’, the film is shot in a monochrome black and white and Pawlikowski has chosen lead actors who look comfortable in the period setting. It’s a handsomely crafted film with deep themes, but something about the way it all played out left me a little cold, despite admiring the performances and the way the film was put together.
Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) is an experienced musician responsible for tutoring talented young performers, with a view to preparing them to perform in various cities across the Eastern bloc. Much of their material is political, eschewing the greatness of Stalin and other communist leaders, and we soon learn that Wiktor is looking for an escape. His plans are compromised by a relationship he builds up with Zula (Joanna Kulig), a spunky, young woman who he falls hard for, and the film follows their complicated romantic path as they are kept apart by the politics of the time. The film jumps across various locations where the musicians perform and this shows the contrast between communist cities such as East Berlin and the liberal environment of Paris, where Wiktor settles for some time. Kot and Kulig are magnetic opposite one another and Pawlikowski does a good job of selling the anguish of their predicament, as neither can truly live as they want too whilst being with each other.
‘Cold War’ is a strong follow up to ‘Ida’ from Pawel Pawlikowski and continues his trend of exploring the milieu of post war Poland, but ultimately it’s a film I admired without ever being fully engaged by.
Directed By: Pawel Pawlikowski
Starring: Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc, Agata Kulesza, Jeanne Balibar and Cedric Kahn