Panorama | Special Presentations
The title of Pawel Pawlikowski’s film, his first since 2013’s Oscar-winning Ida, is a double reference: one is to the great post-WWII conflict, and the other is to a relationship of similar toxicity on a smaller scale. Poland, 1949: while scouting players for his folk troupe, Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) comes across the rambunctious Irena (Agata Kulesza) and is immediately taken with her misanthropic charm. What follows is a narrative that takes in two decades of cultural and political history with our capricious protagonists in the foreground, transitioning from folk to jazz, assuming new identities and refashioning their lives—while falling in and out of love.
Cold War was among the most acclaimed films at this year’s Cannes festival, and it’s easy to see why. Pawlikowski has made a masterful anti-romance, shot—like Ida—in magnificent monochrome and powerfully, even zealously, portraying the dread of a generation that lived through WWII but was never quite able to move past it. This is a remarkable achievement—the most intoxicating, lively and sophisticated feel-bad movie we’re likely to see for some time.
"The lovingly handpicked soundtrack, ranging from darkly mesmerizing folk curiosities to torchy blues standards to a climactic, ethereal wave of Glenn Gould-interpreted Bach, is perhaps the most invaluable below-the-line contribution to a film crafted with almost eerie exactitude…" —Guy Lodge, Variety
Best Director, Cannes 18