COLD WAR film review

Joanna Kulig as Zula in COLD WAR. Photo by Pawel Pawlikowski. Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

– By Cate Marquis –

The Oscar-nominated COLD WAR is a brilliant, beautiful film about a passionate romance between two mismatched people, set against the backdrop of communist Poland and the Cold War. Shot in gorgeous black and white, director Pawel Pawlikowski’s Polish-language drama traces the ill-fated, incendiary love affair of two musicians through fifteen years, from their meeting in 1949 communist Poland through the decay of Polish communism throughout the Cold War, as the couple cross back and forth over what was called the Iron Curtain. The story is inspired by the director’s own parents, with the characters sharing their names.

COLD WAR is a compelling romantic drama is full of tragic twists of fate and history, about two people of differing background and personality yet bound by irresistible attraction, all further complicated by the impossible situation of the times in which they lived. Tale is brought to vibrant life by the two appealing actors playing the star-crossed couple, aided by a fabulous jazz-driven score and beautiful photography.

Pawlikowski’s previous film IDA won the 2018 Oscar for foreign-language film, and COLD WAR is among this year’s nominees for that Oscar, as well as winning Pawlikowski the Best Director award at Cannes. Like IDA, the director uses lush black and white photography to tell a historical story that blends the personal and the political. The film is short, a mere 89 minutes, and skips ahead in time between scenes, leaving us wanting to know more. At the center is the star-crossed love story, inspired by the director’s parents, with a charismatic pair of actors whose vibrant performances fire up the screen.

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