Directed by: Pawel Pawlikowski
Written by: Pawel Pawlikowski and Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Starring: Agata Trzebuchowska and Agata Kulesza
Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida is a road movie imbued with a calm, tragic stillness. The story is set in early 1960s Poland, but its atmosphere is a more timeless evocation of post-World War II pain, where smoky lounge bars feel like a distraction from still unhealed national wounds. Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska), a novitiate nun preparing to take her vows, is largely sheltered from that world, until she’s instructed to learn more about her past by visiting Wanda (Agata Kulesza), her aunt and only known living relative.
(Spoilers ahead) Not long after she meets Wanda, Anna finds out she’s Jewish, and her real name gives the movie its title. Her family was slaughtered in the war by someone they thought was a friend, and she was spared, taken to a Catholic orphanage as a baby and raised without that knowledge. Throughout the story she is by turns petrified and embarrassed; petrified at the tragic turns of her journey of self-discovery, and embarrassed both by and for her aunt, who lives a very different life than that of a nun-in-waiting.