Saturday 8 September 2018

Film: 'Cold War'

Having seen the trailer for this Polish, b/w film one time too many, I was in no mood to see the entire thing, it looking just too dour to enthuse me. But my resistance being prevailed over by certain critics (and one or two others) who'd gone overboard for it, go I did.

Set in the 1950s (and its margins), and beginning in Warsaw, its main character is a young music student (Joanna Kulig) with a degree of reluctance, locked into performing with a troupe celebrating in song and dance the 'achievements' of Josef Stalin, Poland then being a satellite state of hard-line Communist Russia. She meets and has a passionate affair with a music arranger (Tomasz Kot) who, because of his profession and unlike most Poles, has relative freedom to travel, he taking her to Paris where they reside a while. (Has there ever been a film, any film, with scenes set in that city where we are not given the obligatory sight of La Tour?)  There are also brief interludes in Berlin and Yugoslavia. As she starts performing solo, their relationship becomes fractious, even tempestuous, and he returns to Poland, while she remains, gets married, yet misses him deeply, and turning up to meet him during his visits back. Then she also returns to Poland.

The first thing that struck me positively about the film was the look of it, and it really is astonishing, in old-style, square dimensions - with each placement of the camera capturing almost a masterpiece of visual construction.

The Polish and French dialogue is subtitled throughout, naturally, something I never find as off-putting as some others do, and I went along easily with it, not experiencing any monotony at all.
The story itself is not intended for laughs, and we don't get a single one. It's downbeat throughout - melancholic rather than being depressing.

This is the first film I've seen from director, Pawel Pawlikowski whose last film, 'Ida' of five years ago, was generally well-received. On the evidence of 'Cold War' I'll be giving serious consideration to seeing his next feature, should it get a cinema release. 

If I don't quite go all the way with the effusive commendations which this film has attracted I would say that if it sounds like your 'bag' definitely give it a go.................7

(IMDb................8.0 / Rott. Toms................8.3 )


  1. A good review. I am glad you got to see it. I love that it was in black and white and the two lead roles were superbly undertaken.

    1. It was your praise of it above all that got me to go, Rachel, and I'm pleased I did.
      I found neither of the two main characters sympathetic, though they weren't intended to be particularly so. Both were both acted to perfection.
      I can't say I'll be wanting to sit through it again, though if I do get the chance it'll be to experience the look of it a second time. Nevertheless, a good film.

  2. I'll go to this when it comes here. Thanks for both of your reviews!

    1. Glad to hear that it's probably your 'sort' of film, Gwil, when a lot of more 'unenlightened' folk might run a mile to avoid it. Hope you like it.

  3. Thanks for bringing this film to my attention. Watched the trailer and an interview with Pawlikowski on YouTube. The look of the film brings back the foreign films off the 60s and some of the story is taken from the lives of his parents. This sounds like my "bag" and I definitely will give it a go.

    Btw, Did Pawlikowski win at Cannes and have you any interest in seeing "Roma" which won at Venice?

  4. Yes, he did win 'Best Director' at Cannes for this film, Paul. I think it's more due to his unerring sense of creating a memorable image - which in this film is practically every scene - than for what he draws out from the players, that he won the prize, at least that's how I see him having been justly recognised.
    The film is exactly like those old continental films of the 60s, the modest screen dimensions nodding in that direction too, as well as it being b/w.

    If you know the kind of thing to expect, as you clearly do, I'm sure you'll be having a high opinion of 'Cold War'.

    I'll see 'Roma' if it comes here, which it probably will, but there's no telling.

  5. Raymondo, you've been quiet for a while
    Is everything ok?

    1. You too? Oh dear! I really must start flagging up my absences with the reasons. I honestly had no idea that there were some who really cared, JayGee, and am moved that you are one of them.
      As I say to Rachel on another post, I went to visit my big sis in (what used to be) North Yorks, near Redcar, who's just turned the big eight zero, my first time in seeing her for 3.5 years. My absences do tend to be rare but next time I vanish for a while I really must give fair notice. Thanks for asking, though.