COLD WAR – A Review by Cynthia Flores
Cold War is the other black and white film nominated for a 2019 Oscar for best foreign language film, best director (Pawel Pawlikowski) and best cinematography (Lucasz Zal). The other one is Roma which was all done by the great Alfonso Cuaron. They both are films to be seen and enjoyed; unfortunately, they came out in the same year, so they are the ones to beat.
Cold War is a historical period drama set in Poland and France during the cold war from the late 1940s until the 1960s. It tells the story of an established musical director Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) who is part of a program to take researched Polish folk music and bring it back to life. This would help instill pride in their homeland under Stalinist communist rule disguised as the Polish United Workers’ Party. In the midst of all this political oppression, hundreds of young Polish people auditioned for the chance to be a part of this singing and dancing troupe. Enter what would become the love of Wiktor’s life, Zula (Joanna Kulig). She is younger than him but because of her rough upbringing, she has learned how to use her looks to get whatever she wants and what she wants is him.
We see the relationship grow between this volatile pair, their love is like an infection in their blood, and it only increases as each one rises to stardom in the troupe while touring the country, making love, and making the music, and themselves, famous. It’s during their time of traveling and being forced to perform the same music over and over again that they dare to dream of escaping to the creative freedom of the West. After learning of an upcoming show in a different country, they spot their chance to make a break for Paris. It’s extremely dangerous, and if they get caught, they would go to jail or worse. On the day of the escape, Wiktor waits for Zula at the checkpoint that leads to freedom. But she freaks out and is too afraid to lose what she already has for an unknown future in Paris. Wiktor must now decide to stay with the only woman he will ever truly love or leave her behind to chase his dream of making it big in the West.
I won’t tell you the rest of the story because I want you to see it for yourselves. Cold War is a moody and masterly told story of toxic love mixed with real creative talent all against the backdrop of a repressive regime. Most of the time filmmakers stay away from making black and white movies because it can create a distance between the story and the audience. However, Cold War needed to be in black and white because I think the brightly colored red, green, and yellows of their native Polish folk dancer costumes wound have been distracting to this murky dark love story.
Which black and white film will win out at this year’s Oscars? We will find out soon enough. I know I have my favorite. All I can say is Cold War is a stunningly dark and moody film, just like the music when Zula sings her heart out to the only man she has genuinely ever desired. So, grab a glass of wine and enjoy this superb film that I give an A rating to.
Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski
Written By Pawel Pawlikowski, Janusz Glowacki, Piotr Borkowski
Selig Rating A
Running Time 1hr 29min
Limited Release January 25th Landmark’s Magnolia Theatre, The Angelika Film Center & Cafe- Plano
Starring: Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.