review

Cold war: fiery love in an ice-cold climate

"Cold War will melt the coldest heart. May it be of benefit to you."
Onze score

They can’t live without one another. They can’t live with one another. And all in the age in which the Cold War and the communist dictatorship had cast their chilling pall over Poland. Pawel Pawlikowski has surpassed himself with the passionate Cold War.

Pawel Pawlikowski has not only dedicated his follow-up of the stylized and Oscar-winning Ida to his parents, they were also the inspiration for the couple to which the British-Polish director pays tribute in Cold War. Wiktor and Zula destroy one another when they are together and destroy themselves when they are apart. Their love is as fiery and as impossible as the Poland of their time was impossible and inhuman.

Wiktor is a talented musician and one of the driving forces behind Mazurek, a large ensemble who cause a furore with their modern take on authentic folk dance and folk music. Zula is one of their most remarkable members: an intense young woman who stabbed her father when he mistook her for his wife. Despite their age difference and despite their strong and opposing characters, they fall madly in love.

Their story would inevitably have been one of extreme highs and lows, but the 1950s Polish setting doubles the intensity and the drama. She is forced to become a spy and swears by survival tactics. He has reached the end of his tether and thinks fleeing to Western Europe will solve his problems and finally bring him freedom. We’ll leave the rest to your imagination, but there is a good chance that the film will surpass it.

Both of the lead actors are utterly captivating. Just like in Ida, Pawlikowski expresses himself in hundreds of black and white shots that have the power of masterful photographs. The difference is that Cold War is much more dynamic, warmer, more compelling, and more musical. Ingenious ellipses enable him to condense fifteen years of thwarted passion, history, and fate into less than ninety minutes. Will melt the coldest heart. May it be of benefit to you.

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