DRAMA; 1hr 28min (Polish and French with subtitles)
STARRING: Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot
Slow dance: Kulig and Kot
Communist Poland in the 1950s is a frigid land of slippery political sands in Ida director Pawel Pawlikowski’s graceful, gorgeously retro, black-and-white dedication to his mercurial late parents.
Sultry singer-dancer Zula (Kulig) and saturnine pianist-composer Wiktor (Kot) meet when she auditions for a travelling folk ensemble he’s involved in setting up. Wiktor is poleaxed by her foxy energy, and later, by the violent darkness of her past. The two fall madly in love, but staying together isn’t so simple: when a planned escape from East Berlin falls through, Wiktor makes the move alone. In the following decade, he and Zula will come together in Paris, where he’s playing lushly passionate nightclub jazz. They collaborate on an album and vow undying adoration, only to combust again in a morass of insecurity and booze.
For egocentric spirits, neat solutions are rarely on the cards, let alone in a divisive and perfidious age. Wiktor does prison time. Zula is a drunk, married for convenience to another man. But their magnetic pull remains a rebellious through-line, given voice in the anthemic folk and jazz numbers that mirror the prism of the lovers’ shifting moods and soar above every rule-bound border.