7:30 PM, 22nd May, 2015
Set in Poland in 1962, Ida is a moving and intimate drama about a young novitiate nun named Anna (Trzebuchowska). She is an orphan who was raised by nuns in a convent and is now about to take her final vows. However her Mother Superior (Skoczynska) refuses to let Anna take the vows until she visits her only surviving relative Wanda (Kulesza).
Anna travels to Warsaw and meets up with her hard-drinking, chain-smoking aunt who tells her that she is not a Catholic but was born Ida Lebenstein of Jewish parents who disappeared during the war. Both women then start on a journey to not only discover their family’s past but also to discover who they both really are and where they belong.
Perfectly shot in black and white, Ida (pronounced Eeda) is a compelling story not to be missed. The two main actresses give strong performances. The pair could not be more different; Ida, though a determined character, is quiet, gentle and shy. In contrast, her aunt is a tough, hard as nails woman who knows how to use power to achieve goals.
A relatively short film, Ida depicts some of the more contentious aspects of Poland’s history. Director Pawel Pawlikowski (Last Resort, My Summer of Love), in his first native language film, has delivered a powerful story that will remain in your memory for a long time.
9:02 PM, 22nd May, 2015
Three fringe environmental activists (all strongly-drawn characters: a pushing, earnest one, played by Eisenberg; the soulful one, played by Fanning; and a shifty, untrustworthy liar, played by Sarsgaard) band together to blow up a dam. They’re amateurs, but they work like professionals: leading up to the explosion they scarcely set a foot wrong, and recover well when they do. It’s a bit of a shock to at least one of them, then, that after they’ve succeeded, they aren’t quite sure why they’ve done it – I’d say it’s probably what viewers of “Yes, Prime Minister” know as the politician’s syllogism: ‘We must do something; this is something; therefore we must do this’. They’re ill prepared for the way other environmentalists don’t even secretly approve of what they did, and not at all prepared for their steadily growing feelings of guilt and paranoia.
I should confess: I found Kelly Reichardt’s much-lauded previous film Meek’s Cutoff a tedious waste of time, a failure on almost every level – especially where it was most admired, like in its use of landscape. Who knows why I watched this one, then, but I’m glad I did. For one thing, it looks much better: shot in the lovely, misty-rainy, eve-of-autumn greenery of Oregon, we’re always aware of what these activists are trying to protect. And while slow and meditative, it’s also a thriller – a subdued thriller, something we don’t often see deliberately done; but like me, you might find you like the combination.