Cold War (2018)

On Mondays, my cinema shows art house and indie movies but I don't go often as it usually shows movies that I'm not interested in seeing. This week's movie was Cold War (Polish: Zimna wojna) and, since I heard great things about and I was also curious to see if all the Foreign Language nominees are dreadful this year or if it's just Roma, I decided to go. 

Set in post-World War II Europe, mainly in Poland, from the late 1940s until the 1960s, the story follows Wiktor (Tomasz Kot), a musical director, and Zula (Joanna Kulig), a young singer with incredible talent, as they fall deeply, hopelessly in love. Forced to perform communist propaganda songs, they dream of escaping to the West and they soon have their shot in France. However, Zula misses it and over the years they will cross paths often.

Loosely inspired by the lives of his parents, director and co-writer Paweł Pawlikowski delivers one of the most passionate but tragic romances of recent years. Sure, the star-crossed lovers plot has been done before, but everything is against them —Wiktor and Zula's relationship goes against all the conventions as he is much older than her, they have different backgrounds and cultural levels, and they are from a country, Poland, were their love won't ever be able to blossom— that you can't help but hope they will end up together. While doing this, Pawlikowski also shows how powerful art is as it can be used as a mean of political and social protest.

The issue with Cold War is the characters. They don't have a lot of depth and they don't always feel like real human beings but more like walking stereotypes. Despite this, as I said above, you care about Wiktor and Zula, and it truly hurts to see them apart. The performances probably have something to do with that as both Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot gives great performances as they bring intensity, energy and authenticity to their roles.

Kino Świat, Diaphana Films, Curzon Artificial Eye

No matter how good the romance or the acting is though, it's the black and white cinematography from Lukasz Zal that absolutely steals the scene. It is simply breathtaking —it's like poetry for the eyes— and really transports us in the period when the story takes place. The music, which fuses Polish country folk and French jazz, is also outstanding.


  1. I definitely want to see this whenever it decides to make its way near me.

  2. Great review and you are so right about the black and white cinematography being like poetry, it was one of my favorite parts of the movie, as well. I loved the film, especially the first two thirds of it.