Cold War

Directed by Oscar-winning Polish filmmaker Paweł Pawlikowski best known for 2013’s critically acclaimed Ida, Cold War is a breathtaking romance drama that is truly remarkable for its beautiful black-and-white cinematography and outstanding lead actors who give brilliant performances as star-crossed lovers. Based on the lives of the director’s own parents, the relatively short film with mostly Polish dialogue follows the heated and complex romantic relationship between two Polish citizens, the musician and composer Wiktor, played by the terrific Tomasz Kot, and the beautiful singer Zula, played by the seductive Joanna Kulig. We first meet them in the years following World War II in the ruins of communist Poland when they are part of a traveling folk music group that later espouses the virtues of communism throughout Eastern Europe and Russia. After their romance begins behind the Iron Curtain, we follow them as individuals who get separated and reunited several times across several European countries over the course of four decades concluding in the late 1960s. Wiktor eventually escapes Poland and lives for a while in Paris as a struggling musician working in nightclubs but never really feels happy after Zula decides to remain back home in Poland. With brilliantly subtle directorial vision, the audience is able to feel the passionate and emotionally powerful romantic interactions between the two as they are reunited several times throughout the course of the plot. Furthermore, the filmmaker makes the perfect decision to make the film black-and-white with the older boxy proportions to vividly express the difficulties of those living in the rather bleak and the confining communist countries during the Cold War. At the same time, the movie depicts a truly beautiful love story with a contemporary jazz soundtrack for the times and astounding cinematography that helps bring to life both the dark and light of both sides of the Iron Curtain. Overall, I found it to be one of the most beautiful romantic movies in recent memory as a result of the first-rate acting performances and contemplative directing and cinematography, and it is thereby highly deserving of the Oscar nominations for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director, and Best Cinematography.

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