In my notes while watching this film, I wrote some lines, erased them, wrote over the split words, and found that what I wrote before, the first time, was right.
“The quietness and stillness of strength speak volumes.”
This is what Pawel Pawlikowski’s film, Ida, has given me. The understanding that a person’s display of strength when retracing their steps into the past has nothing to do with facing up to it. It’s a façade that you put up with to fool yourself, or perhaps to fool the world, that it’s okay; that you don’t fear what you’ve buried deep inside you that you now have to uncover only to find yourself.
The film uses silence and profound stillness to convey a feeling that even words would fail to evoke. The cinematography blends in rather than stands out with the way the film is shot. The car journey of Ida and her aunt to find where her family was buried when Ida was just a child is a solitary experience. The two journey to places as if they’re the only voyagers of lost souls in the world.
The way both worlds are imagined and plated for the viewer is unique. Ida’s orphaned and redeemed life story is felt through her aunt Wanda’s accessible and lonely lifestyle. Wanda feels deserted even though she’s a state judge who has sent people to their deaths. The ghosts of them, it seems, still persist as shadows clinging to her kitchen and bedroom. The film quickens your heartbeat to the point of complete fidelity to Pawel Pawlikowski’s style of filmmaking. It’s historically powerful. Every frame is a story to weigh in, to observe, to feel deeply.