Pawel Pawlikowski, director of the Oscar-winning Ida,
returns with the exquisite Cold War. A tumultuous love story between two people
of different backgrounds and temperaments – who despite their overwhelming
passion for each other, are fatefully mismatched – it won him Best Director at
Cannes in May and has received ecstatic reviews.
Loosely inspired by Pawlikowski’s parents (to whom the film
is also dedicated) it’s set against the oppressive background of the Cold War
and across Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris; following singer Zula and
pianist Wiktor from their initial meeting at an audition over the course of the
ensuing 15 years. Endlessly drawn to each other, they are unable to co-exist
but their inability to move on from one another is cyclical, stuck on a painful
and exhausting loop.
It’s a moving, searching and highly personal film from
Pawlikowski, who grew up in exile from Poland’s Communist rule and lived in the
UK and Paris until the period in which he made Ida, which saw him move back to
Poland and change cinematic focus entirely. It feels in many ways as though he
is building further upon the artistic success of that film, with silvery
monochrome cinematography by Ida cinematographer Łukasz Żal, and a continued
commitment to explore both the dark heart of Poland and how its 20th century
political wounds and unrest echoed through the emotional lives of its subjects.