When writer/director Pawel Pawlikowski's film "Ida" arrived in theaters in 2013, it was a hauntingly beautiful tale that signaled a revival in the filmmaker's career.
Five years later Pawlikowski continues that trend with "Cold War," an school romance set against the backdrop of political turmoil in Poland in the 1950s that has the same haunting impact as "Ida."
"Cold War" is a simple story, following a music director named Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) who falls in love with a young singer named Zula (Joanna Kulig).
The couple seek freedom from communist Poland, a chance to perform freely and love freely, deciding to defect to France during a performance.
When the plans don't go exactly as planned the aftermath has a lasting impact for years to come.
Like "Ida," Pawlikowski doesn't spend too much time allowing his story to unfold with "Cold War" clocking in at a brisk 88 minutes. The short run time is an asset though, demanding the audience to pay attention - then drawing them into the story in an intimate fashion that escaped many of Hollywood's big budget films in 2018.
The music is memorable and Lucasz Zal Oscar nominated cinematography is beautiful - much like "Ida" - using black and white imagery to really capture the mood of the film.
But what makes the film really tick is the two leads - with Kot and Kulig's on screen chemistry feeling almost effortless. The two actors really make you care about the characters and their plights - furthering the intimate feel of the material.
Perhaps that intimacy comes as no surprise once you learn "Cold War" was loosely inspired by Pawlikowski's parents. This is clearly a labor of love for the filmmaker, with audiences reaping the reward of a love story for the ages.