Combustible Celluloid
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With: Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc, Agata Kulesza, Cédric Kahn, Jeanne Balibar, Adam Woronowicz, Adam Ferency
Written by: Pawel Pawlikowski, Janusz Glowacki, Piotr Borkowski
Directed by: Pawel Pawlikowski
MPAA Rating: R for some sexual content, nudity and language
Language: Polish, etc., with English subtitles
Running Time: 88
Date: 12/27/2018

Cold War (2018)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Just Folk

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Polish filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski follows up his great, Oscar-winning Ida with another shot-in-black-&-white beauty, but, though Cold War falls far short of its predecessor, it still has enough striking moments to recommend it. Set largely during the 1950s, it centers on a couple of musical directors, Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) and Irena (Agata Kulesza), who are collecting folk music from various regions and assembling it into a traveling show. During auditions, Wiktor is blindsided by gorgeous singer Zula (Joanna Kulig), and they form a relationship that comes and goes through the years. Cold War is one of those movies that passes in giant chunks of time, with the year printed at the bottom of the screen for each change, and age makeup increasingly slathered onto our two leads. These conventions only interrupt what is otherwise a rather compelling and lovely love story (supposedly based on Pawlikowski's own parents). Moreover, whereas the black-and-white cinematography in Ida seemed to serve the story, here it only seems to be pretty. But Pawlikowski wraps it all up in less than 90 minutes and includes a satisfyingly clever final shot that will send most viewers out happy.

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