A cold war is a geopolitical struggle, kind of an uneasy standoff.
Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski sets his new film during the cold war era that stretched between the late 1940s and 1960s. To make the point, he titled it “Zimna wojna” (translation: “Cold War”).
The film takes place in Poland and France. Rather than being a spy thriller, it’s more of a romance between a singer and the musical director who discovers her. Pawlikowski loosely based it on the lives of his parents. In fact, the characters share his parents’ names.
Joanna Kulig stars as Zuzanna “Zula” Lichoń, a sultry blonde jazz singer. She based her performance on Lauren Bacall, especially the star’s sarcastic delivery of dialogue.
Tomasz Kot plays her love interest, Wiktor Warski.
In the ruins of post-war Poland, Zula and Wiktor are forced to play along with the communist propaganda machine. But the lovers dream of escaping to the west.
One day comes a chance to gain their freedom in France. But will they take it?
Here we have a couple that can neither stay together nor live apart.
Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 95% fresh rating. Its consensus says, “With a brilliantly stark visual aesthetic to match its lean narrative, ‘Cold War’ doesn’t waste a moment of its brief running time — and doesn’t skimp on its bittersweet emotional impact.”
Pawel Pawlikowski will be remembered as the director who gave us “Ida,” winner of 2015’s Best Foreign Film Oscar. As a quick footnote: Joanna Kulig played a singer in that film too.
And Pawlikowski won Best Director accolades at Cannes International Film Festival for this new film.
What’s more, “Cold War” has been nominated as Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director, and Best Cinematography for the upcoming 91st Academy Awards.
Interesting that the black-and-white film has been nominated for its cinematography, in that he originally planned to make it in color. One moviegoer noted, “The first thing to state about this beautiful movie is that it’s monochrome. So stunningly so that at times you feel you are in a photographic gallery rather than a cinema. The quality of the cinematography is quite extraordinary thanks to Lucas Zal. It’s one of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen in many years.”
Another fan agrees: “The black-and-white style creates a romantic and nostalgic atmosphere.” Evocative of European films of the ‘50s and ‘60s.
Yet, some moviegoers accuse “Cold War” of being form over content.
Still others find it cold, stark, and emotionally distant.
Me, I saw it as a moving depiction of ordinary people trying to make an emotional connection during the cold war era in Eastern Europe. It gets my thumbs up.
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