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When ‘what if’ is the scariest scenario….

Every now and then a movie comes along that proves how few bells and whistles are needed to make great cinema when the story is compelling , and its execution well-crafted. Such is the case with “Ida,” a film from Poland that’s been successful on the festival circuit for the last year, finally earning U.S. release.

Set in the early ‘60’s, the character Ida is an 18-year old raised in a convent, who, before taking her vows is sent by the Mother Superior to spend some time with her aunt, and only living relative, Wanda. Ida finds out that she was actually born a Jew, and that her parents had died during the war. Ida and Wanda embark on an ultimately successful mission to discover what became of their relatives, but along the way discover more than they can handle about themselves.

London based, but Polish-born, director Pawel Pawelkowski shot the movie in 4 by 3 black and white, with every frame a composition
supporting the austere ambiance of communist-era Poland. The soundtrack is equally austere, consisting of basic dialogue, actual
radio broadcasts, party-approved classical music, and muffled Coltrane covers in a seedy bar where Ida begins a carnal
exploration. Wanda is a character of tragic tumult brought off wonderfully by veteran Polish TV actress Agata Kuleswa.  The Ida character is played by Agata Trzebuchowski, incredibly in her first film acting gig, after friends referred her to auditions at a local bar. If her language skills past her native Polish are anything like her acting skills, film world…watch out. Her facial expression, poise, and gait built around the sparsest of dialogue will have you bonding with her character, and remembering “Ida” for a long time…