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I'll be very honest.
I liked the idea of black and white. Brings melancholy. The movie is a melancholy than a romance.
And the last few minutes of the movie just reinforces it.
Few 16 year olds were probably heading out to see this Polish romantic tragedy on their birthdays but there I was with my friends sitting in a cinema for an hour and a half admiring the beautiful visuals. That was probably my biggest take away from the film as I can't say that the story entirely pulled me in with the love story not quite causing me to fall for the two lovers. Pawlikowski clearly put a lot of effort into the technical elements of this film but perhaps the screenplay could have used some editing to give us more reason to believe that there is more than just lust between the two leads.
In Post-War Poland under a strict government regime musical recruiter Wiktor, Tomasz Kot, searches for talent in the small towns of the country to perform in a state sponsored band supporting the government. Along with colleague Irena, Agata Kulesza, he discovers the talented Zula, Joanna Kulig, whom he is strongly attracted to due to her looks and the fact that she stabbed her father in self defense. They quickly enter into a relationship after she becomes a member of the band but she does not go to Paris with him when he makes a desperate attempt to escape Poland. They meet by chance years later and rekindle their relationship but she is frustrated by his controlling behavior and derails her career by becoming an alcoholic and returning to Poland without informing him. He returns to try and find her but is imprisoned at a workers camp. Zula marries their former friend Kaczmarek, Borys Szyc, to help him gain a reduced sentence but feels trapped in her new marriage and returns to Wiktor. The two swallow pills in order to commit suicide and spend their last moments together admiring a view.
Zula is the beating heart of the film but I never felt myself caring for her. She has clearly had a difficult childhood and so I wanted to love her and understand the decisions she makes in the second half of the film but we never really learn enough about her childhood to justify her actions. I was simply annoyed when she sabotages her relationship with Wiktor and leaves him suffering and at some point wanted him to just abandon her. There is little to like about her as while Kulig is beautiful and mesmerizing when she sings as a person she seems to be a train-wreck lacking in any self restraint and unpleasant to be around when she is not performing. Were there something about her as a person that seemed at least interesting I would see why Wiktor and the film seem so devoted to her.
Much like Bound for Glory (1976) this is a film where I can forgive a lot of it's flaws because it is extraordinarily beautiful to look at. Certain scenes are stunning and achingly romantic simply because of the visuals including one in which the two lovers embrace while standing on a boat slowly making it's way down a canal while lookers on are seen in darkness. The black and white is rich and the starkness of it makes moments like seeing a giant poster of Stalin appear behind the performers during a show rather scary. So much of my experience of the film was simply gasping at various images present in the film and marveling at how crisp the shots of Kulig's luminous eyes are.
One of my biggest problems with the love story that the film presents is that it doesn't seem to be based on genuine love and emotional connection but a desire to have copious amounts of sex. The scene in the film that most illustrates their attraction is one in which they stare at one another for over a minute and the camera cuts between them smoldering at one another. Sure, this was sexy enough because they are both attractive people but the sex scene we witness afterwards made me oddly uncomfortable as the two actors seemed incompatible kissing and groping. There should have been more scenes of them talking or some discussion of what their love means but it seems like the film skips all that and expects us to care because they are pretty and doomed.
An endearing romance tale about the endurance of love beyond borders and across time.
Pawel Pawlikowski's Polish romance drama Cold War (2018) is a breathtaking film with stellar direction and heartfelt performances. For fans of Blue Valentine or Manchester by the Sea, I found Cold War a riveting tale of unrequited love separated by time and politics within Poland in the 1950's through the 1960's. Pawlikowski effortlessly recreates the era his parents grew up in with stunning attention to detail. His use of Polish folk songs as powerful symbols of patriotism is a cute choice in its own right and makes Cold War feel more authentic.
Pawlikowski's direction is really impressive with creative shots and memorable framing in every scene. I particularly love the shot at the party with the characters at the bottom of the screen with a majority of the frame showing the party guests reflected in a mirror. Pawlikowski is just a creative genius and a wonderful director. He should be very proud of how striking and gorgeous Cold War is truly.
Pawel Pawlikowski's writing is tender and thoughtful in how portrays the love that brewed between his parents. He understands how women can feel brushed aside for men's ambitions and unloved despite being the center of attention. Pawlikowski is amazing at finding the heart behind the anguish of his leading man's longing for his dream girl. He balances historical turmoil with romantic tension by using it as the guiding force for their constant separation. Pawlikowski crafts a realistic relationship between two adults torn apart by political circumstances in Poland and emotional disconnect between each other. His story is resonate, while also forming a dreamy ideal of genuine love for your spouse.
Joanna Kulig is phenomenal as Zula in Cold War. She is devastating in her despair, painfully unhappy in her marriage, funny in her dry wit, flirtatious in her playful attitude, and mesmerizing as a gentle jazz and folk singer. Her voice sounds so soothing and natural with a significant sorrow to it. Kulig is as gifted a dramatic actress as she is a tremendous singer. Her skill is apparent in Cold War as she captivates you with her alluring dramatic performance that deepens into tragedy as Zula is forced to do unimaginable things to reconnect with her love, while hypnotizing you with tender songs and affecting singing like in the serene Paris nightclub sequence. Kulig is a radiant natural beauty, but she's such a pleasure to watch for her poignant acting as the dejected Zula. I hope Joanna Kulig gets more acting roles as she is resplendent in Cold War.
Tomasz Kot is empathetic in his portrayal of Wiktor in Cold War. He is ultra serious during the conducting pieces, passionately revealing in his piano playing, nuanced in his facial acting, and subtle in his interactions with Kulig as they say more about how much they love one another with a notable glance or longing word. I think he is riveting as the leading man in Cold War with impressive moments of vulnerable openness like when he is smiling or crying on the piano.
In all, Cold War is a triumph of understated filmmaking and nuanced acting from two talented leads and a visionary director. Pawel Pawlikowski outdid himself with the sincerely romantic Cold War.
one of My friends who has great taste of films recommended to watch it after showing one scene from it. Maybe you already got which scene is that. Yeah in the early minutes of it, whey they were invited as a team to night (I think), and they stood in front of mirror looking at crowd. And Boom! This was one of the best scenes I have seen ever. Then I decided to watch it immediately.
beautifully shot, simple effective premise, romantic and tragic
Will you be my baby?
I loved this movie. Everything: the acting, direction, cinematography, storyline, and of course the music. It reminded me of all those great British films of the 60s. These days, movies are too long, but I could have watched this movie for another hour. Will be watching this director (for the future).
Absolutely amazing cinematography
Long boring Oscar type movie starring who knows and who cares. Foreign films aren’t my thing, I apologize in advanced but my question was why did I think it would be good?
A delicious masterpiece. Pawlikowski's latest drama since 'Ida' dives into the genesis of an obsessive relationship between two lovers, Zula and Wiktor, trapped in the tragic post-World War II Poland. Despite a restrained pessimism that goes through the entire movie we can't stop feeling delighted by Lukasz Zal' stunning b&w cinematography, that seems to be inspired by the greatest authors of the soviet montage. Pawlikowski takes a step forward with 'Cold War' and emerges as one of the European directors to watch.