“Ida”

“Ida” is a quiet film. A quiet film that touched me so deeply in its reverence and execution that I place it in my memory like “The Pawnbroker”, another holocaust-themed film where the emotional cost to one Holocaust survivor is recorded through hardened pain and self-immolation. I find “Ida” one of the most inspirational and moving foreign language films that I have seen.

In just eighty minutes of black and white framed images, Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski has delivered a back story and a future one that shows a woman and her niece making decisions based on their shared historical past.

Nominated for Best Cinematography and Best Foreign Language Film in 2014, “Ida” is also the haunting debut of the young Agata Trzebuchowska (b. 1992). Her beautifully boned face is Madonna- like and soulful. She encapsules the 1960’s novitiate setting with an ease that is both powerful and resplendent. When Ida is sent by enlightened and fair-minded nuns to visit her only living relative, she learns of her past and of her family’s. She listens to her aunt, a  unique combination of one emotionally removed while being emotionally charged. You will not forget her screen presence as she blows smoke on her niece and haughtily questions, “What do you know of life?”

Like with Amish “rumpspringa, Ida’s restrictions from convent behavior allow for experimentation with 1960 style drugs, sex and friendship. Her rite of passage rings truer than most. When she is last seen walking up the frozen road to the convent, we know why. This film is religious, metaphysical and real. Comments, please.