PL-FR-UK / 88 min / B&W / Opus Film, Film4, BFI Film Fund, Protagonist Pictures, Apocalypso Pictures, MK Productions Dir: Pawel Pawlikowski Pro: Tanya Seghatchian, Ewa Puszczynska Scr: Pawel Pawlikowski, Janusz Glowacki, Piotr Borkowski Cin: Lukasz Zal Mus: Marcin Masecki Cast: Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc, Agata Kulesza, Cedric Kahn, Jeanne Balibar, Adam Ferency, Adam Woronowicz, Anna Zagorska Synopsis: Based loosely on the story of the director’s own parents, Cold War covers the entirety of a couple’s love affair, from their enchanted first meeting in 1949 to the aching denouement of their relationship in the 1960s. Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) is a jazz-loving pianist and musical director tasked with auditioning traditional folk musicians as part of a state-sponsored project to champion culture from rural Poland. Young Zula (Joanna Kulig), who turns out to be more torch singer than folk singer, captivates Wiktor at first sight with her beauty and insouciance. Their fates joined, Zula and Wiktor are soon struggling both with personal demons and historical forces that persist in tearing them apart. (Source: TIFF). Release dates: Cannes Film Festival (Competition): 10 May 2018; Poland: 8 June 2018; UK: 31 August 2018; Spain: 5 October 2018. IMDb Rating: 8.0.
My take: Begoña and I have seen this week Cold War, directed by Pawel Pawlikowski. The film follows the passionate relationship of Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) and Zula (Joanna Kulig) over a fifteen year period. The story is set against the background of the Cold War, taking our protagonist from Poland, to Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris until their definitive return to their native Poland. A love story full of encounters and dis-encounters, shot in black and white, that has brought me back the illusion to watch films on the big screen, after a lousy season fortunately broken by the last two films seen so far, The Rider and Cold War.
More about this film: Paweł Pawlikowski follows his Oscar-winning Ida with the stunning Cold War, an epic romance set against the backdrop of Europe after World War II. Sumptuously shot in luminous black and white, it spans decades and nations to tell a love story that is as tragic as it is moving, and as transportive as it is honest.
In the ruins of post-war Poland, Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) and Zula (Joanna Kulig) fall deeply, obsessively and destructively in love. As performing musicians forced to play into the Soviet propaganda machine, they dream of escaping to the creative freedom of the West. But one day, as they spot their chance to make a break for Paris, both make a split decision that will mark their lives forever. As the years march on in the wake of that moment, Wiktor and Zula watch the world changing around them, always struggling to find their moment in time.
Winner of the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival 2018, Pawlikowski melds the personal with the political to exquisite effect. Set to a soundtrack that takes you from the rustic folk songs of rural Poland to the sultry jazz of a Paris basement bar, it’s a wistful and dreamlike journey through a divided continent – and a heartbreaking portrait of ill-fated love.
Pawel Pawlikowski began his career making documentaries for television. In 1998 he directed his first feature film for the cinema, The Stringer, followed by Last Resort (2000), for which he received the Best New Director BAFTA, My Summer of Love (2004), presented in the 14Plus section at the Berlin Festival, and La femme du Vème (The Woman in the Fifth, 2011). He achieved international renown with Ida (2013), winner of the Academy Award for Best Film in a Foreign Language, among many other accolades. Zimna Wojna landed the Best Director award at the last Cannes Festival.