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Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski

Poland, 2013

Cornerhouse, 28 September 2014


The tale of two dissimilar women: one a novice nun, the other a feared judge.  But they are related, share a common past.

Set in Poland at the beginning of the 1960s and looking back to the time of the  Nazi occupation, it’s a film that wrestles with issues of trauma and identity, spirituality and worldly experience.  It has one particularly shocking, because unexpected and unemphasised, scene.  You need a moment or two to realise that something terrible has happened.  And yet despite the darkness – quite literally so, in fact, since the film is bleakly and beautifully shot in black and white – there is joy and adventure and promise here.  Not least in the jazz of John Coltrane.  You cannot help thinking of the Jewish Jesus seen in Chagall’s paintings of the 1930s and ‘40s, though.  A Jesus crucified, with a placard across his chest.

Hardly surprising that Ida/Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska) ends as a Pilgrim, walking alone along a road.

A beautiful film and Agata Kulesza’s performance (she plays Wanda) is magnificent.