MOVIE REVIEW – Cold War
Review by Geoff Jenke
In the ruins of post-WWII Poland, pianist Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) is commissioned by the Soviet state to form a musical ensemble to help rekindle national pride. Whilst touring the villages in search of talent he meets the beautiful Zula (Joanna Kulig, in a luminous star-making turn), a fiery and charismatic singer with a past, and the two fall passionately in love.
When a performance in Berlin offers the pair an opportunity for escape to the West, a last-minute decision finds them stranded on either side of the Iron Curtain. As the years march on, Wiktor and Zula – whether through political circumstance or personal impetuosity – struggle to find their moment in time…
The movie spans 15 years across Warsaw, Berlin, Paris and Yugoslavia, and was inspired by the lives of the director’s own parents. COLD WAR meticulously recreates the era with virtuosic black and-white cinematograph, with viewing in 4:3 ratio (think the old square TV’s) and an extraordinary soundtrack that is used judiciously to signify the passage of time and shifting relationships.
This is an epic tale of love and loss, squeezed into 88 minutes. In fact, if there is one fault with the movie, it is the length of time in the movie (1947 – early 1960’s) that is trying to fit into the allotted 88 minutes. Time and countries change rapidly throughout the film. This is just a minor quip however as the movie is wonderful in every aspect.
The soundtrack is exceptional with songs ranging from traditional Polish songs, through George Gershwin’s I Love You Porgy, traditional jazz, Cole Porters, Love for Sale and Rock Around the Clock by Bill Hailey and the Comets. I doubt you would find a more eclectic set of songs on a movie soundtrack ever.
The ending comes suddenly and is completely unexpected. A little rushed and unsatisfying perhaps, but then again when it finished my first thought was, I need to see this film again.
Cold War was a critical and audience favourite at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival (where it was awarded the Best Director prize) and already touted as a major 2019 Oscar contender.
Warmly lyrical, impossibly romantic and visually stunning, COLD WAR is one of the films of the year.