Pawel Pawlikowski. Starring Agata Kulesza, Agata Trzebuchowska, Dawid Ogrodnik. IMDB. PG-13.
Ida tells the story of Anna, a young Catholic novitate who is about to take her final vows in 1960s Poland. She is very young and was raised in a Polish convent, an orphan. Just before she's due to take her vows, the Mother Superior tells her to visit her only surviving relative, an aunt, who has some things to tell her.
Her aunt Wanda is a woman haunted by death. Deeply troubled, she has nonetheless forged a successful career as a judge in post-war Poland but nothing can fill the emptiness inside her. Anna, or Ida, as is her real name, is Wanda's only hope. Together they try to uncover the last secrets surrounding the fate of Ida's parents, and of someone else special to Wanda, too.
Ida is a quiet movie, very compelling and very tragic. Visually it's arresting; filmed in stark black and white, the people are often dwarfed by nature, by architecture, and ultimately by the weight of history and the secrets it bears. It's just over an hour long (82 minutes) but it feels longer, and not because it's boring. It's the kind of movie that forces you to pay attention every moment, to every nuance. The two lead actresses give incredible performances each in her own quiet way and draw in the viewer completely. Everything is so quiet, and yet the women give off so much energy they might as well be screaming.
I strongly recommend Ida to people who find themselves liking the kinds of books I like. It reminds me of Philippe Grimbert's Memory especially. Anyway it's an unforgettable film.
FTC Disclosure: I rented this movie from Netflix.