Follow up to 2013’s Ida, Pawlikowski has produced a brilliantly striking piece of work in Cold War. Set in post second world war Europe (opening in Poland), it tells the story of a passionate love affair between two very different people who meet while recording folk songs under the name of “Mazurek Ensemble”, who then go on to tour Eastern Europe.
The two in question are the composer Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) and singer Zula (a mesmerising Joanna Kulig). These characters were based on the directors’ parents whom he described as “the most interesting dramatic characters I’ve ever come across.. both strong, wonderful people, but as a couple a never-ending disaster”
The film is in Polish, black and white and in the academy format 4:3. This will put a lot of people off. However, it is a beautiful film with so many timeless images and incredible acting. Joanna Kulig is especially impressive in Oscar-worthy performance. You can definitely see why Wiktor is so obsessed.
The stakes are raised when Wiktor sees the chance to defect to France during a show in East Berlin and begs Zula to join him. What follows is a conflict of Wiktor’s love of Western Europe’s freedom and his disillusion of the groups increasing propaganda in favour of Stalin. For Zula, her success with the troupe is at odds with her lover’s decision.
There are definite echoes of Casablanca in Cold War , while Joanna Kulig reminds me of both Jennifer Lawrence (Hunger Games, Red Sparrow) and Lea Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Colour Spectre).
If you stick with it (the first 10 minutes might test you), this is a beautiful, heartfelt story of two people torn apart both by personality and the post-war split of Europe. This could well be the film of the year.
Rating – 9/10
Should you go and see it – Probably missed it at the cinema but can be watched on Curzon Home Cinema. Otherwise, you will have to wait for the home release, but its well worth it. A stunning piece of cinema.