“Cold War” Passion

The Polish film Cold War (2018), by Pawel Pawlikowski, concerns two lovers who live and travel in a 1950s-early 60s Europe that wants to be, and must be, divided.  Why?  Because of communism.

The Poland in which Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) and Zula (Joanna Kulig) meet goes Red, then Wiktor resides for a time in Paris.  There, a musician, he can play music dissociated from Stalinist politics; in Poland communism is contaminating the arts.  Also, he makes love there to the visiting Zula despite a straw marriage she is in.  This is Europe of the Cold War, although there is, as well, a certain cold war imposed on Wiktar and Zula’s relationship.  Once in a while it heats up.

As with his movie Ida, Pawlikowski filmed Cold War in black and white, which is palpably austere but also unnecessary and a trifle too lustrous to be deeply artistic.  And yet the movie is artistic.  It can’t be denied that, as Manohla Dargis said, “it is filled with ordinary and surprising beauty.”  Of various kinds.

(In Polish with English subtitles)

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