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Cold war is a glorious tale of forbidden love set in 50’s and spanning over 15 years as well as several European countries from both Eastern and Western Bloc. It is an exploration of tracing the impact of political turbulence on personal dynamics of a couple madly in love.





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Wiktor and Zula are madly in love with each other since the time she came for an audition of a folk song troupe. Zula is a misfit amongst the group and possibly an imposter. Rumour is that she killed her abusive father (“He mistook me for my mother, so I used a knife to show him the difference”) and she doesn’t look Slav enough to be a poster girl for Communism.

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Meanwhile, in Poland, communist propaganda has taken over music. The banner at the entrance of the music school says “We welcome tomorrow” but actually it is more of a revival of old folk culture which is at the forefront now. Wiktor wants to escape his homeland for artistic freedom and better opportunities in Paris, the promised land for artists. But Zula doesn’t accompany him in his journey.

What comes next is a journey spanning one and half decades, shown in bits and pieces, with abrupt forward jumps in time, crafting the story as well as keeping us guessing about their personal and professional lives. This is a brilliant example of creation by omission. Both the characters are sketched by few but bold brush strokes. Another dimension to the story is added about the perpetual yearning for one’s homeland. Exile in the cultural epicenter of Paris is still an exile.

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Joanna Kulig shines in her role of enigmatic Zula, showing a vast range in her portrayal, and Tomasz Kot ably compliments her acting. Pawlikowski again shoots in monochrome and 4:3 format like his last movie “Ida”. This is the work of a director at the height of his powers and controls the ebb and flow of this restless epic with supreme confidence. There is a particular shot of Zula jumping into a river and then drifting down with it, which is for the ages. Also the final shot is a killer. After years of scattered and fleeting appearances across Europe, the couple has finally got a chance to rest. And they chose to move away from the camera at that exact moment. The couple has earned that moment of serenity, and hopefully this time it is permanent.


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This is a semi-musical movie, and the songs as well the background score is magnificent to say the least. The Polish song “Two Hearts” deserves a special mention. The song transition from a collective folk chorus in Eastern Europe to more individualistic jazz in capitalistic Western Europe was spectacular.

In its 88-minute runtime, there is hardly any moment of a snag. Cold war leaves many unspoken pauses, but there is hardly any moment where it does not indulge you in this bleak but soulful journey.


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‘COLD WAR’ WAS SCREENED AT THE 20th JIO MAMI Mumbai Film Festival With Star under the ‘WORLD CINEMA‘ Section.
CLICK HERE FOR OUR COMPLETE MAMI COVERAGE.

Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Screenwriters: Pawel Pawlikowski, Janusz Glowacki, Piotr Borkowski
Cast: Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc, Agata Kulesza, Cedric Kahn, Jeanne Balibar, Adam Ferency
Duration: 98 minutes
Country: Poland
Language: Polish
Production companies: Opus Film, Film4, BFI Film Fund, Protagonist Pictures, Apocalypso Pictures, MK Productions
Producers: Tanya Seghatchian, Ewa Puszczynska
Executive producers: Nathanael Karmitz, Lizzie Francke, Rohit Khattar, John Woodward, Jeremy Gawade, Daniel Battsek
Co-producers: Piotr Dziecioł, Malgorzata Bela
Director of photography: Lukasz Zal
Production designer: Katarzyna Sobanska, Marcel Slawinski
Costume designer: Aleksandra Staszko
Editor: Jaroslaw Kaminski
Music and song arrangements: Marcin Masecki
Casting: Magdalena Szwarcbart
Sales: Protagonist Pictures/mk2

 

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