Pawel Pawlikowski

6.5 Last Resort (2000)
7.0 My Summer of Love (2004)
7.0 The Woman in the Fifth (2011)
7.1 Ida (2013)
7.5 Zimna Wojna/ Cold War (2018)

Pawel Pawlikowski (Poland, 1957) started out with documentaries and the short film Twockers (1998).

The Stringer (1998)

Last Resort (2000)

My Summer of Love (2004)

The Woman in the Fifth (2011)

Ida (2013), set in communist Poland in 1962, is a melancholy meditation on the meaning of life in an atheistic world disguised as a simple tragedy of victims of the war. This world is atheistic because God allowed Jews to be exterminated, communism to rule, and friends to kill friends. Ida renounces life not to serve God but to escape humanity. This bleak story is told in a humble and succint manner, disposing of all spectacle.

Anna grew up in an orphanage and now lives in a convent, ready to become a nun. She and three other novices erect a statue of Jesus in the snow-covered yard. Her mother superior tells her that, before taking the vows to become a nun, she must visit her only living relative, her aunt Wanda. Anna travels to the city, where all the traffic looks alien to her. Her aunt lives alone in an apartment, is an alcoholic and a chain smoker, and has occasional sex with random men. They have never seen each other. After a few minutes of embarrassed conversation, Anna learns from Wanda that Anna is not her real name: she is Ida, and she is a Jew. Her parents were Jews, killed during the war. Wanda is a judge who used to be famous as "Red Wanda" because she sentenced to death several anti-communists. Ida now would like to pray on her parents' grave, and Wanda is no less motivated by the project. Wanda drives to the town where Ida's parents used to live and then had to hide. The aunt, after having a few drinks at a local bar, tracks down the house but the man who lives there is hostile: his father is the one who hid the Jews. As they drive away, Wanda is arrested for driving drunk and Ida has to sleep on the floor of the police station. The following morning they set out to find the man's father, who should know where the Jews died. On the way they give a ride to a handsome young man, a saxophonist who is going to the same town to play at a dance. Wanda ironically tells Ida that her vows will be meaningless if she has never tried the pleasures of the flesh. Wanda and Anna/Ida take a room in the only hotel of the town. The two women have lunch while the band is rehearsing and they are the only customers in the restaurant. That night Anna/Ida refuses to join Wanda as she walks downstairs to listen to the band and dance. Wanda flirts with a man who takes her back to the hotel room. Ida, upset, walks out and meets the saxophonist. The following day Wanda and Ida knock at the old man's apartment. He is at the hospital, and Wanda does not hesitate to break into his apartment. Something that she finds there greatly disturbs her. Later they visit the old man at the hospital. Wanda flatly accuses him of killing the Jewish family. He tells her that he hid them and fed them, and doesn't deny killing them. Wanda asks if the boy was afraid, and we learn that Wanda had a son and she had left the son with her sister (Ida's mother) to join the resistance. Her boy was murdered with Ida's parents, and Wanda believes it was the old man. They leave the old man who is dying. His son shows up. He tells Ida that he will take her to the grave if she promises to leave the old man die in peace. Ida meets the saxophonist again and he tells her that she is beautiful. She removes her veil and undoes her hair to stare at herself in the mirror. The son takes her to the woods where the killing happened. He digs until he finds the bones. He hands the skull of the boy to Wanda, who wraps it in a piece of cloth and takes it to the car. He admits that he is the one who killed the family. Ida asks why she wasn't killed. He says that the boy was circumcised and therefore easily recognized as a Jew, but she was just a baby. He left her to a priest thinking that nobody would ever find out that she was a Jew (we are not told how the convent found out that she had an aunt). Ida collects the bones of her parents. Wanda and Ida drive to their family's grave and bury the remains. Ida goes back to the convent and doesn't take the vows with the other novices because she doesn't feel ready. Meanwhile, her aunt is getting drunk again and, after sleeping with another random man, jumps from the window of her apartment to her death. Ida visits the empty apartment and assumes her aunt's persona: she dresses sexy, smokes and drinks. After the funeral (held by former comrades of the "red" judge), Ida sleeps with the saxophonist. Then she travels back to the convent to take the vows: now she is ready.

Zimna Wojna/ Cold War (2018)

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