By Andrew Breazeale, Staff Writer
[Amazon Studios; 2018]
Paweł Pawlikowski returns to the silver screen with Cold War, a breathtaking look into Eastern Europe during the Cold War and a study of a love that stretches across time and space. Following the lives of Polish musicians Zula (Joanna Kulig) and Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) as they fall in love, Pawlikowski delivers a precise yet utterly poignant portrait of war reflected in the relationship between two people.
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Much like fellow Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee Roma, Cold War is cinematography at its most masterful. Each frame is precisely placed, creating an aura of quiet perfection and seriousness that pervades every second of the movie. With the addition of black and white, realism and simplicity are heightened, allowing the viewer to fully dive into the political and technical aspects of the film while enjoying a feast for the eyes. The simple elegance of the cinematography emphasizes the stress that war creates and the implications it had on the culture of Poland and other countries under the Iron Curtain. Pawlikowski bewitches the viewer and transports them to another time and place where love is just as standoffish as a war with no conflicts.
In a movie with almost no character development, one would expect to be treated to a love story without emotion. But in this film, emotionlessness works perfectly, allowing the direct connection between love and war to shine through. Pawlikowski utilizes the relationship between Zula and Wiktor to detail the dangers and complexities of war and how they are directly applicable to both the breaking down of a culture and the dilemmas couples face. Kulig’s singing is sublime, bringing to life the traditional Polish songs she sings throughout the movie. Both Kulig and Kot bring realism to the film through their acting, but the realistic emotionlessness the audience feels from watching their love on screen further adds to the backdrop of war.
Overall, it is clear that Pawlikowski is trying to connect love and war in an interesting way. He crafts a world that is without color and emotion, and he brings to life the stress and heartbreak of the Cold War. With a powerful political backdrop and gorgeous cinematography, this movie cements itself as a classic in the modern age and a compelling look back into the history of a fallen country.
Watch the trailer here: