Critics Consensus

Empathetically written, splendidly acted, and beautifully photographed, Ida finds director Pawel Pawlikowski revisiting his roots to powerful effect.



Total Count: 160


Audience Score

User Ratings: 17,916
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Movie Info

From acclaimed director Pawel Pawlikowski (Last Resort, My Summer of Love) comes IDA, a moving and intimate drama about a young novitiate nun in 1960s Poland who, on the verge of taking her vows, discovers a dark family secret dating from the terrible years of the Nazi occupation. 18-year old Anna (stunning newcomer Agata Trzebuchowska), a sheltered orphan raised in a convent, is preparing to become a nun when the Mother Superior insists she first visit her sole living relative. Naïve, innocent Anna soon finds herself in the presence of her aunt Wanda (Agata Kulesza), a worldly and cynical Communist Party insider, who shocks her with the declaration that her real name is Ida and her Jewish parents were murdered during the Nazi occupation. This revelation triggers a heart-wrenching journey into the countryside, to the family house and into the secrets of the repressed past, evoking the haunting legacy of the Holocaust and the realities of postwar Communism. In this beautifully directed film, Pawlikowski returns to his native Poland for the first time in his career to confront some of the more contentious issues in the history of his birthplace. Powerfully written and eloquently shot, IDA is a masterly evocation of a time, a dilemma, and a defining historical moment; IDA is also personal, intimate, and human. The weight of history is everywhere, but the scale falls within the scope of a young woman learning about the secrets of her own past. This intersection of the personal with momentous historic events makes for what is surely one of the most powerful and affecting films of the year.


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Critic Reviews for Ida

All Critics (160) | Top Critics (45) | Fresh (153) | Rotten (7)

  • Now that Paweł Pawlikowski's haunting Polish film has been nominated for a foreign-language Oscar, Ida is back in the conversation. Let yourself be enveloped by a modern cinema classic.

    Feb 6, 2015 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • Nestled within its sins-of-the-elders narrative is a faintly charming cross-generational bonding picture, pairing a worldly cynic with a young girl taking her last gasp of secular air before giving her life to the Lord.

    Jan 5, 2015 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

    A.A. Dowd

    AV Club
    Top Critic
  • With her brassy, determined aunt, Ida sets off to find answers and discovers life beyond the convent walls in this leisurely but satisfying journey.

    Jan 5, 2015 | Rating: B | Full Review…
  • Don't adjust your set: the film is (strikingly) photographed in Bergman-esque shades of gray-and-white.

    Jan 5, 2015 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Pawlikowski is intelligent, sensitive to mood and willing to defy fashion -- and this last quality, in particular, is rare enough to be worth valuing.

    Jan 5, 2015 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • There is not a frame in this austere spiritual journey that isn't a thing of heartfelt beauty.

    Dec 6, 2014 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

    Wendy Ide

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Ida

  • Mar 31, 2017
    Anthony L Super Reviewer
  • Feb 01, 2015
    Pawel Pawlikowski's "Ida" is a deceptively complex, haunting film that places the personal story of a young woman against the backdrop of a moment in history when the legacy of the Holocaust was the elephant in the room and Communism was in the heat of its postwar spread. Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska) is an 18-year-old preparing to be a nun at the convent in which she was raised, when she is instructed by the Mother Superior to visit her Aunt Wanda (Agata Kulesza), who presently informs her that her name is actually Ida and that her parents were murdered during the Nazi occupation. This jump-starts the bleakest road-movie ever, economically shot by Ryszard Lenczweski in beautiful black-and-white and 1.37:1 aspect ratio, framing each shot carefully and precisely. At times, this method of photography can become distancing, but at its best it offers an objective window into the relationship between two women, one a world-weary cynic and the other a straight-laced conservative attempting to contextualize the horror and beauty of the world that she never quite realized. These two women are beautifully performed by Kulesza and Trzebuchowska, respectively, the latter a newcomer whose face is simply hypnotic, pulling the viewer into her journey. It's a simple, unassuming and leisurely film, but one that rewards patience and, upon review, has quite a lot going on under its surface.
    Kyle W Super Reviewer
  • Jan 05, 2015
    The Christian and Jewish belief systems are two very different ideals, and watching a woman raised as a nun, realizing she has a Jewish aunt was fascinating to me. The back and forth they share once Ida realizes she is a Jewish nun was very well-executed. At a mere 80 minutes, this film flies by quickly and you are sucked right in. I felt myself wanting more by the end, even though they wrapped it up perfectly. The film did not have to take the few dark turns that it did, but aside from those, this is a near perfect film. Simple and to the point is the best way to make a film sometimes. Well-written, well-directed, and extremely well-acted by it's two leading ladies. With frames as uniquely and precisely shot as this film is, every shot counts in this picture, and I must say, "Ida" is a superb film.
    KJ P Super Reviewer
  • Jan 02, 2015
    Set in 1960's Poland, Ida follows a young, orphaned nun named Anna who is near taking her vows in her Catholic convent. However, prior to taking her vows, Anna is advised by her Mother Superior of an existing relative she must visit before taking her vows, as a form of familial closure. Anna then visits her only living relative, Wanda, who juxtaposes Anna's innocent and reserved nature with her loud, drunken, and crude behavior. Anna is told of her true familial roots, learning that her real name is Ida Lebenstein and that she is, in fact, Jewish. Determined to trace back her lineage and find the graves of her family, Ida and Wanda begin a journey into their past, finding both beauty and heartache in their world set in the aftermath of the Holocaust. Presented entirely in black and white and shot with breathtaking artistry, Ida is a visually poetic masterpiece. Adata Trzebuchowska encompasses the role of Ida with, beauty, finesse, and a pure look of innocence as she begins to experience both the elegance and tragedy of the world for the first time. There is a deep internal struggle in Ida as she attempts to find her individuality through her lineage, her faith, and the nature of the outside world through her experiences with her aunt, and every emotion is felt and seen with subtly in Trzebuchowska's actions and expressions. She is captivatingly delicate, even in her silence, as we try to decipher the constant ponderous look in her eyes. As a newcomer to Polish cinema, Trzebuchowska is mesmerizing and alluring every moment she is on screen, and she inarguably has an overwhelming amount of potential in her future cinematic endeavors.
    DA Z Super Reviewer

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