Anna, a young novitiate in 1960s Poland, is on the verge of taking her vows when she discovers a family secret dating back to the years of the German occupation.


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  • ★★★★★ review by Lise on Letterboxd

    The quick & dirty from TIFF 2013

    Director Pawel Pawlikowski introduced the film and the more he spoke the more I was was falling in love. Here is a man I respect. He's a straight-shooter. He wanted to be clear about something: his film was about the characters. The characters weren't stand-ins for some political agenda, they didn't represent ideological principles, he wasn't making any grandiose statements. What you see is what you get, and what you see is a story about two women and how past decisions influence their current choices. I sat listening to him and wanted nothing more than to go give him a big hug in thanks. I wanted to thank him for being down-to-earth, for declaring that he wasn't a pretentious "arteeest" setting out to make a film that "really meant" something completely different than what you were seeing. Good for him. I'm fairly certain I said that bit out loud.

    Ida is a simple of film of two complicated characters who meet for the first time and are left to navigate very deep and personal issues. Ida grew up in a convent and is just about to take her vows. Her only living relative wants to meet her to give her information. We then follow both of them as discover their common history together and we see how each character affects the other.

    The story is simple and beautiful.

    Director Pawel Pawlikowski wanted to make a simple story with no fluff or distractions. Shot in Academy ratio (1:33) black and white, the unusual framing is gorgeous.

    Ida is that breath of fresh air one needs after seeing too many films that all look the same. Ida is that gem that one needs after seeing too many plot devices. Ida is that film that regenerates one's love of cinema.

  • ★★★★½ review by Eli Hayes on Letterboxd

    I mean, My Summer of Love was very, very solid, but... what the hell, Pawel Pawlikowski? Where did this come from!? A seriously astonishing work of beauty from a filmmaker that just jumped from being good to being great, at least in my book. The perfect framing of each wonderfully crafted scene; the fascinating dynamic between the two protagonists; everything. Everything about this movie was just gorgeous, and the third act was particularly astonishing. Almost reminded me a bit of Bergman at times, which I don't mean as anything but an enormous compliment. Ida slowly absorbs you with its spell until you don't even realize that it has stolen you completely away from reality and into its bleak, dichotomous world. I wish I had caught this one in the theater (and I envy all of you that did). Would have been nothing short of remarkable. Scratch that, even watching it on DVD was remarkable.

    Oh yeah, and that shot of her spinning in the curtain - a little nod to Terrence Malick? Or Lynne Ramsay, perhaps? You really know how to earn bonus points with me... don't ya, Pawel!?

  • ★★★★★ review by Ben McDonald on Letterboxd

    The lingering bitterness of war and genocide lingering on the edges of the frame, Ida is a stone cold masterpiece of transcendental filmmaking.

    Pawel Pawlikowski is perhaps one of the last true masters of black-and-white cinema. Watching this, even on my desktop monitor in the middle of the day, was immersive beyond words. It's impossible to wrap my head around the fact that this was not filmed in 1960s Poland.

    Impeccably framed and designed, Ida is so far restrained from its subject matter that it allows the viewer to pour their own thoughts and feelings into the empty void left behind.

    There's so much more to say, but I feel like the wind has been knocked out of me.

  • ★★★½ review by SilentDawn on Letterboxd

    Continuously a cinematographic triumph and a moody study of a crossroads of faith; Ida is a film that kept me quietly in a state of enrapture and focus. While it'll never be a film I will watch again, mainly because of the distressing and dense subject matter that didn't really resonate with me, I cannot deny that I was in consistent awe throughout the brisk 82 minute runtime. Visually, It's a stunner. Emotionally, It's quite distant.

  • ★★★★ review by Sam Van Hallgren on Letterboxd

    Very different films, obviously, but had me thinking of BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR in the way that it's about a young woman's first encounter with Life. 10-15 years ago, I may have taken IDA's ending as a cynical commentary on the emptiness of secular existence. But now at 40, I see it for what it is: as with BLUE, simply an early chapter in a book yet to be written.

    Of course drop dead gorgeous cinematography. So gorgeous, in fact, I wondered if I should be suspicious: was its beauty appropriate given the subject matter? But then the formality of the framing, the camera's calm stillness is a reflection of Anna/Ida's faith - and her innocence - isn't it? With God - or something - filling most of the frame. And then we get that last shot of the film, which reflects either the rampart of faith a-tumblin' down'; or just the burden of carrying around a faith that has finally been tested.

    I also admired the film's depiction of a country figuring out how to move into the future - and celebrate its past - with so much fresh blood on its hands. Haunting.

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