Paweł Pawlikowski’s Cold war is dedicated to his parents. Although he has named his characters Zula and Wiktor, like his mother and father, the story differs a lot from the real Zula and Wiktor story. In 1949 Wiktor Warski (Tomasz Kot) is a musical director crossing Poland to record folk songs and auditioning young Polish singers and dancers to form a folkoric troupe. He falls in love with young Zula (Joanna Kulig), a lovely girl with a beautiful voice. The fokloric show featuring Zula’s voice is a big success, but soon they are told that they have to be more patriotic. So the troupe start singing military songs and perform in front of giant pictires of Stalin. Zula and Wiktor are both defiant and decide to defect. They have a plan to flee to Paris, but Wiktor waits for Zula, who never shows up. So he leaves alone. They keep meeting each other over the years, once in Yugoslavia where Zula’s troupe is touring. Later they get together again in Paris. Wiktor is then a jazz pianist and Zula plans to record French versions of her Polish folk songs. No matter where they meet, their love is still strong and passionate. Their story spans almost twenty years from the late forties to the mid-60’s. It is rocked by political changes and musical styles. Folkloric, classical, jazz and rock and roll. One amazing momment occurs later in the film when an intoxicated Zula (played by the talented Joanna Kulig) dances to (We’re gonna) Rock around the clock, the classic song by Bill Haley & his comets. She swirls, jumps on tables and on the bar. At this point Pawlikowski can’t do better. In perfect control of his film and in harmony with his actress, who in turn gives a towering performance. But I don’t think that Cold war would be as compelling without its soundtrack. It is a such variety of different styles. Polish folk songs, jazz, modern film music, classical, and others. It’s very enjoyable. And then there is the brilliant black and white cinematography from Łukasz Żal. Żal’s work in Cold war should be seen more than anything. Not to be missed.
And the nominees are... In addition to best Foreign language film as the Polish nominee, Paweł Pawlikowski is nominated for Best director. Łukasz Żal is also nominated for Best cinematography. Żal was previously nominated for Paweł Pawlikowski’s Ida, 2013’s winner for Best foreign language film. But this year there is Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma.
Plays at Ottawa’s ByTowne Cinema from Febrary 15 – 22
Cold war (Zimna wojna)
In Polish with some French, Russian, German, Italian and Croatian with English subtitles.