This is my review of Ida [DVD].
Demure, unaware of her sexual appeal, eighteen-year old Ida is about to take her vows as a nun. Brought to the convent as an orphan, she knows nothing of life in the outside world. The Mother Superior insists that Ida visits her sole remaining relative, who turns out to be a chain-smoking, hard-drinking, promiscuous and clearly embittered Communist woman judge. Ida is introduced abruptly to a corrupt, secular world, lightened by the lure of soulful jazz, dancing and handsome band players. She also learns about how her parents died, with all this symbolises of the dark side of recent Polish history. Will she be destroyed by these new experiences? Can she return to life as a nun?
Visually slow-paced, in what may be an East European tradition, yet covering events in brief fragments, this provides what seems to be an authentic picture of Poland in the early `60s, the black-and-white photography adding to the impression of general poverty and contradictions of a strongly rural, Catholic society under an imposed atheist Communist regime. The film exposes some of the unresolved conflicts in a troubled, occupied post-war country.
This subtle film, which reveals its story gradually, deserves the praise it has attracted, even if the ending is initially disappointing.