If you’re looking for reasons to see ‘Cold War’ I’ll give you a few. One is that it’s said to have received a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival. After seeing it, I can believe this. Another is that Rotten Tomatoes has certified it as 93% Fresh. On to my reasons as to why you should make a trek to the theatre to watch this movie. Yes. I said it. There’s no waiting for home viewing with a movie this alluring. Its beauty is sophisticated, profound and slight. It doesn’t scream directly in your face but rather hits you when you revive the entity the film was to you from your memory. The black and white cinematography will look clean and quiet while whispers of genius glide across the screen and entices you to watch this lovely heartbreaking story of love. I promise you that you’ll not be able to look away. It’s a real treasure to observe. Part of why was the 4:3 aspect ratio used that allows the viewer to examine the picture as a piece of photographic art. By shrinking its scale, it’s also possible for the audience to see themselves in the characters or better relate to what they’re going through.
In the story, we have two main characters named Zula and Wiktor. She is a student and he’s her teacher at a school that advocates for Polish folk music and dance. ‘Cold War’ recounts the tale of Zula (Kulig), who’s a gifted singer, and Wiktor (Kot), her teacher and interestingly enough, a songwriter. When they meet, they fall instantly in love. Set in Poland in 1949, the lovers, who dream of being together once and for all, have not only their station in life but communism to worry about. Sadly, for the next fifteen years, this perfect pairing must perform a dance of hiding their relationship from everyone, while at the same time trying not to have the torch they carry for one another extinguished by their circumstances. They secretly meet one another whenever and wherever they can until they can stand it no longer and finally decide to leave and be together once and for all. Best laid plans, right? He leaves for the border where he waits for her to join him. However, afraid of what could happen to them, she doesn’t meet him. Realizing she’s not coming, he decides not to go back and goes on with her. Several years go by and during this time, she struggles deeply. Oh, if only she could find him aga… wait! Look! Here comes Wiktor who can always put a smile on her face. Well, not really. Though they do find one another, it isn’t long before they’re separated again. This storyline is repeated over and over. They’re doomed to a life of searching which is good for their art but terrible for their hearts.
She’s married when they meet once again in Paris. These scenes are the most rewarding. The music, and her performance, in particular, is outstanding. During this period, she’s drunk all the time and they’re both miserable but with so much working against them, how could anyone truly be happy? What’s most provocative about this ‘love story,’ is that when they find themselves together, it never works out. It’s as if they have longed for it so deeply, that’s all they know how to do. Wanting is one thing… having what you reach for is quite another. Who are Wiktor and Zula if not the two seeking one another? The ending, that I’m not revealing to you here, is superb. It couldn’t have been improved upon. All of that said, describing this film does nothing for what it essentially is. It’s magnificent. See it before Oscar season. It’ll most likely be everywhere.