Set during the eponymous state of geopolitical tension following World War II, Cold War is a portrait of the complex relationship between two doomed lovers and their country.
An epic, visually arresting love story spanning borders and decades by master filmmaker Paweł Pawlikowski, director of the Academy Award–winning Ida, Cold War employs a luminous black-and-white palette and is beautifully and deliberately composed, the fluidity of its roving camerawork washing over you like a dream.
Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) is a talent scout travelling through rural Poland to recruit artists for a music and dance ensemble. When Zula (Joanna Kulig), a determined woman with a streak of darkness, sings for him, he is instantly entranced. As it becomes clear that the ensemble is forming a Stalinist agenda, Wiktor and Zula defect to the west side of the Iron Curtain while on tour. The two then embark on a tempestuous love affair that is as syncopated and elliptical as the jazz that infuses the film. Both are hardened but damaged survivors of their circumstances, weighed down by a lifetime of compromises and the omnipresent necessity of self-interest. In times of peace, they take each other for granted, but in times of extreme hardship, they always reunite with a crystallized sense of perspective and purpose.
A melancholic but exquisitely beautiful film, Cold War is ultimately about finding your way back home—whether it is to a particular place or a particular love.
“This is the refined work of an artist at the peak of his powers, and, dare we say it, a masterpiece.” (John Bleasdale, CineVue)
“It’s visually stunning, passionate, wistful, and thoughtful in equal measure.” (Emily Yoshida, Vulture)
“The crystalline black-and-white cinematography exalts its moments of intimate grimness and its dreamlike showpieces of theatrical display. It is an elliptical, episodic story of imprisonment and escape, epic in scope.” (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian)