Academy Award-winning film, “Ida,” embarks on a quest of truth, grief and loneliness in this postwar Poland.


Traveling through Poland in 1962, Polish-born director Pawel Pawlikowski (“Last Resort” and “My Summer of Love“) reveals a hardship land under gray sorrow and post-Stalinist skies.

Pawlikowski tells the fragile story of an orphan who must pave the way through this haunted landscape, protected only by her spirit and her lonesome companion.

Eighteen-year-old Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska) is a young novitiate nun, who is only a few days away from taking her vows in the convent. Within this time frame, Anna learns of the existence of an unknown aunt named Wanda (Agata Kulesza), a former state prosecutor.

Wanda boasts grimly about her role in Poland’s Communist government and how they used judicial terror to weed out their enemies. Now a decade later, Wanda’s zealotism is drained away through alcohol, chain-smoking and one-night stands.

All that is left of her is bland cynicism. Through this discovery, Anna uncovers a dark family secret dating back to the years of Nazi occupation.

When meeting her aunt Wanda, naïve Anna soon discovers that her real name is Ida and her parents were Jewish, murdered by the Nazis. There’s no tact when revealing this declaration to Ida, “You’re a Jew.”

Aunt Wanda’s cunning words slip off her mouth as we see a sudden disbelief and shock in Ida’s face. These characters are well aware of the horrors from Poland’s past during Nazi occupation.

This alertness adds narrative depth and raw emotion to the story. Just 80 minutes long, Pawlikowski reaches into his country’s past and digs deep in uncovering Ida’s future. Through his film’s tragedy, we see potent characters and breathtaking scenery.

The film’s simple black-and-white frames add another layer to the story. We travel with Ida and Wanda on their quest for truth about their family’s unanswered past. Pawlikowski grapples with the tension surrounding Catholics, Jews and Communists.

The drama also contrasts between Wanda and Ida’s beliefs in the world – an atheist and a believer. This rare black-and-white gem is one everyone should take time to watch and soak in.

“Ida” not only empowers the horrors of human wrongs, but also studies the human condition on loneliness and faith. This master evocation of time is powerfully written and eloquently shot, which makes it one of my favorites of 2014.

It receives the highest of highs … five out of five stars. It’s worth your time, “Ida” is personal, affectionate and, most importantly, human.

By Ryan Arnold

Ryan Arnold is Arts & Entertainment Editor for MBU Timeline, as well as Web Administrator for the site. He is majoring in broadcast media and minoring in religion at Missouri Baptist University. Arnold runs cross-country and track and field at MBU. Arnold has always had a passion for film and likes to shoot and edit film. Arnold wants to have a career in video production after college. In his spare time, Arnold also runs his own blog, "Arnold At The Movies." Checkout all of my reviews at