Paweł Pawlikowski directed and wrote this love story that’s set in the 1960’s. This film is unlike any other Polish film I’ve ever seen and I mean that as a compliment. That’s because it has more in common with one of these cool French New Wave films of the 1960’s – Bande A Parte or Hiroshima Mon Amour.
Most other Polish films I’ve ever seen have been weighty tomes that are deeply emotional and steeped in anguish. Emo to say the very least, devastating and tough-going sometimes (think The Three Colours trilogy by Keilowsky, or Ida).
Although Cold War is different from this. Don’t let the name deceive you, this is no misery-fest. This is a painfully hip, lush and gorgeous story of a man and a woman who meet in the ruins of post WWII Poland.
Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, it’s a story of the preservation of culture and of self-censorship, contrasted to personal freedom and artistic freedom. At all times the tangible tension is present of the bigger and insidious communist forces, that discipline and control in extremis. This is a love story told and reflected through music – vivid, passionate and emotional music. The film uses as another character and set piece, different parts of Europe – Yugoslavia, Berlin, Poland and Paris.
Paweł Pawlikowski won the best director award at Cannes for this film and its evident from watching this film exactly why. This is no ordinary story and the telling of it is completely genius and magical in every way.
The two big and larger-than-life characters Zula (Joanna Kulig) and Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) are restless, youthful, exhuberant and passionate in the same ways that characters in a Godard film are.
This film has gone a long way to creating a new mythology and an old-school cool for Cold War Poland. This is an incredibly classy film and a classic in the making. You should see it if you can manage.