When you ask people which is there favorite movie of the year, most will answer with the film Her (Jonze, 2014), but if you ask me I will not give you this answer. The answer I will give you is Ida (Pawlikowski, 2013). Ida is a small polish period piece set in the 1960s, filmed in black and white, and shot in 4:3 aspect ratio. There is not fancy special effects or outstanding cast you will have heard of but I stand and say this is the best film of the year, I’ve seen so far.
Ida concerns Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska) who is a young nun about to take her vows. She is instructed by her prioress to meet her only relative, Aunt Wanda (Agata Kulesza). Anna has lived in an orphanage since she was a baby and had no idea she had any family out in the world. Anna is hesitant to visit her aunt but deciedes to go.
The visit to Aunt Wanda reveals to Anna that Anna is not her real name, but in fact her real name is Ida Lebenstien. Anna who is now Ida is Jewish. The nuns at the orphanage had never told her of her heritage. Let us pause and think how does one react to finding out you are not who you thought you our, or; to put it another way to realize the reality you grew up believing is a false façade. Ida does not throw her arms in the air in surprise or astonishment. Ida sits there quietly gathering the information from her aunt. Ida is a quiet and reserved woman; Wanda who is practically the opposite contrasts her. Learning that her parents were killed during the war, Ida sets out to find were they are buried, with Wanda along her side. Setting the story in motion from here on out.
What sticks out most for this film is the cinema-photography. I loved looking at this film! The beauty of this film comes from being in black and white. One could not achieve the lush lighting in color. Being filmed in black and white give the image its lights and darks and all the colors of grey in between. I could not image this film in color. What also sticks out is the framing of the images. Almost every shot in this film is a-symmetrical or off center. This is enhanced by the 4:3 aspect ratio. The way the characters are framed on one side of the frame almost leaving this vastness openness around the characters, but also drawing your eye to them. In ways this reminds me of Kelly Reichardt’s Meeks Cutoff (2010), this film is also shot in a 4:3 aspect ratio. The aspect ratio in Meeks Cutoff is a metaphor for the bonnets that woman wore at the time. I am not sold on the idea of the same metaphor for Ida. I’ll have to see the film a few more times before I can come to a conclusion, or if anyone has any ideas leave them in the comments below.
This meager review I feel does not do justice to this film. I suggest watching the trailer. If you are looking for a film that seems to have nothing really going on but if you look closer there is more going on then what is at first glance check this out. Ida is a quite and deliberately slow paced film, which is a welcomed to all the noise of super hero movies and transformer movies coming out this summer.