Movie Title: Ida / Siostra milosierdzia
Language/Country of Origin: Polish/Poland
Date Released: August 13th, 2013 (Telluride Film Festival)
Date Seen: February 20th, 2015
Part 1 – Spoiler Free Quickie Review
One of the best foreign feature nominations for the Oscars this year (and best cinematography), and it was on Netflix so I decided to give it a watch. I thought it was beautifully shot, well-acted, and a nice piece of art. It’s not a movie I’d recommend to everyone, but if you like artsy stuff it is a very beautiful film. It’s a slow moving drama in 1960s Poland, about Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska), a woman grown up as an orphan in a convent, a week away from taking her vows. Her mother superior makes her visit her only living relative, an aunt, Wanda (Agata Kulesza). From her aunt she discovers her Jewish heritage and what happened to her family during the war.
The best part of the movie, in my opinion, was the cinematography. It was shot on 35mm film, with an aspect ratio of 1.37:1 and in black and white, gives the movie a nice cozy “old” cinema feeling to it. I can see why this was nominated for best cinematography. The set direction is also beautiful. There is a repetitiveness in the type of shots that are used, but it fits in with Anna’s generally repetitive and boring life from the convent, so it’s fitting for the movie.
The acting was well done. The main actors are just the two women that play Anna and Wanda. Agata Kulesza as Wanda was a standout. I thought she was the best part of the movie. Agata Trzebuchowska has her first role in this movie, and does a good job. A lot of the movie relies on her blankly staring at something though, so I don’t feel like I have a good sense of how she is as an actress. She did good, nevertheless.
I think this movie should be watched for the art quality of it as opposed to the plot. The plot was alright, it’s slow moving, and decently developed, but didn’t get me sucked in nor do I really care about what happens at the end.
Part 2 – In Depth Spoiler Ridden Review
I really liked how this movie was shot, I mentioned that before. One of my favorite things was how the entire movie was shot from still, non-moving camera angles. Entire scenes took place without the camera moving once, or if it did, to a completely different non-stationary point. That is, until the very end. Anna goes back to her aunt’s house and basically has a night out as her aunt. This includes getting dressed up, going out for a night on the town, drinking, smoking, and even having sex with the super cute saxophone player from earlier in the movie. In the morning we see Anna putting back on her nun-in-training clothes, and walk strongly towards the camera, with now the camera moving with her and with a hand-held feeling. Do we know what Anna is planning now? Is she going back to the convent? Is she going to retake her vows? We cannot be sure. But we do know that the girl Anna was leaving the convent, staring down at her feet, unsure of things, such as in the movie poster above, is no longer there. She is changed. The style of the movie has changed. We are looking at a very different person now and the director wanted to make it that much more obvious. While it can be kind of gimmicky – it worked well in this movie and I appreciated it.
Very artistically well done, fantastically shot, good acting, but no rewatchability and a meh plot bring it down for me. Watch it for the style.