A Polish-Danish co-production, Ida is the most recent film by award-winning Polish director Paweł Pawlikowski. The first thing I have to say about this film is that it is absolutely beautiful. Filmed in black and white in order to give it an old-fashioned feel, the cinematography is stunning. Whether the subject is crumbling rural villages, deep old-growth forests, or Ida’s perpetually serious face, the film looks absolutely gorgeous. While it is easy for a modern black and white film to feel cheesy, Ida is simply as beautiful as the woman for which the film is named.
However, if this movie has one flaw, it is that the plot does not match the standard of the atmosphere. While watching this film, I was absolutely sucked into the setting and feel of the film. But sadly, I did not find myself caring about the characters and what happened to them as much as I thought I should have. While the characters are likable and interesting, the events that they go through are simply not that interesting (with the exception of a few moments that I won’t spoil here). Although I suppose that the minimalism could be the whole point of it, and I’m just not getting it. When I walked out of the theater, I didn’t exactly feel bored by the plot, yet when it was finished I was not particularly moved by it either.
In some ways, I suppose Ida is a film that pursues style over substance. It wildly succeeds at that, being one of the better Noir-esque films I’ve seen in recent years in terms of tone and atmosphere, and being one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen in recent memory. While I do wish it was balanced out by a slightly more compelling story, I still thoroughly enjoyed this film, and I would recommend it for the visuals alone. I don’t think this film is meant to be simply thought about: it is meant to seen and felt. I suppose that, occasionally, style over substance might not be a bad thing.