Cold War


Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Cold War
"Beautifully shot and articulated." | Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

What a refreshing change, in the Cannes Competition, to find a film that explores with spare subtlety and rigour a bittersweet romance between two lovers.

Shot in monochrome and Academy ratio it can be seen as a companion piece to the director Pawel Pawlikowski’s Oscar-winning Ida.

Copy picture

Although he lives and works in Britain, Pawlikowski here returns again to his native Poland - and it comes as no surprise that the film is dedicated to his parents.

It is beautifully shot and articulated as he draws us into 1949 Poland in the ruined aftermath of war when a young musician, Wiktor (Tomasz Not), is appointed the artistic director of a new state song and dance troupe whose aim is to revive the country’s folk traditions.

Among the auditioning performers is a young woman, Zula (superbly played by Joanna Kulig), whose spirit as much as her talents catches his eye. There follows a triumphant début in Warsaw, followed by Berlin. Wiktor defects but Zula declines and returns to Poland.

After five years of separation they come together in Paris with Zula convinced that she can make the relationship work. After their French idyll, Zula decides again to return to Poland. She is followed by Wiktor, in the full knowledge he faces prison as a defector. Meanwhile Zula has married a party boss and had a child. In a fine piece of manipulation she manages to get him a reprieve.

The time is now in the Fifties, but the initial thrill of their relationship has faded and they cannot come to terms with their new conflicted status. The romance, as it probably was from the start, is doomed.

Pawlikowski is a master of understatement and economy with nary a word or shot out of place. This film deserves to find the same success and audience interest as Ida and judging from reactions in Cannes, that looks distinctly possible.

Reviewed on: 11 May 2018
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Cold War packshot
A passionate love story between two people of different backgrounds and temperaments, who are fatally mismatched and yet fatefully condemned to each other.
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Director: Pawel Pawlikowski

Writer: Janusz Glowacki, Pawel Pawlikowski

Starring: Joanna Kulig, Jeanne Balibar, Jacek Rozenek, Agata Kulesza, Cédric Kahn, Martin Budny, Borys Szyc, Tomasz Kot, Philip Lenkowsky, Adam Woronowicz, Adam Ferency, Adam Szyszkowski

Year: 2018

Runtime: 84 minutes

Country: Poland, France, United Kingdom

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