Tuesday, March 10, 2015

"Ida", a special film

Last night we watched "Ida", the film that won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Simple and profound, precisely filmed in black and white, it steadily evolved into having a "can't take your eyes off the screen quality".  The two lead actresses were exceptional.

The story, set in early 1960's Poland, is about a late teenage girl who leaves a convent that has been her home since almost birth to visit her one remaining relative before taking her vows.  Much is discovered and the film evokes the history of that era and what led to it by implication more than by any effort of clarification.  Having knowledge of history helps, which would limit its appeal in some places and in some age groups.  Even considering that, it is hard to imagine anyone watching this not recognizing the exceptional performance of the actress who plays Ida and her powerfully subtle on screen charisma.

An amazing fact is that after interviewing 400 actresses for the part and not being satisfied, the director was led to his nascent star by a friend who saw her reading a book in a Warsaw cafe.  She had no acting experience.

The highly regarded and experienced Polish actress who plays her aunt is a performer who gets completely and convincingly into her role, with unexpected nuance that makes flamboyance unnecessary.

With no background music other that what the characters themselves would actually hear, and the black and white film, this feels like an unusual movie from the outset as it slowly sets out on its tale. And what a fascinating and multi-faceted tale it is.


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