The lust and the love involved in Cold War’s story is entirely unmatched in almost all of modern cinema
Even from its first moments, the sheer simplistic effectiveness of Cold War’s cinematography is both, in equal measure, astounding and thoroughly engaging. Łucasz Żal has pieced together a series of images that cast such a desolate yet proud expression of a series of nations, creating a feast for the eyes whilst showcasing rich history and incredible depth. It’s most affecting are the far off wide shots with a particular closeness to the work of Robert Yeoman on The Grand Budapest Hotel, giving Cold War a vividly harsh appearance and a persistently nostalgic overture.
Wiktor (Thomas Kot) and Zula (Joanna Kulig) meet on the journey to creating a stage performance soaked in absolute communist propaganda. With the pair desperate to get out of the rut together, they dream of escaping to France, but their individual volatile personalities puts their future together on indefinite hold.
Director Paweł Pawlikowski has clearly worked closely with Żal to ensure the vision is one of raw emotion, but adds its own layer on top of Cold War. The backdrop of post-war Poland asserts the film’s base level, but the human and emotional side of the film is equally as important. This is a production with a perpetual need for artistry, and each scene feels as if it were based off a black and white still, bringing to life those characters from within.
The theming resonates this idea of age-old characteristics, and a yearn for a better life, so by calling back to the past and giving Cold War such an overpowering sense of longing, the film continuously supplies moment after moment of powerful emotion. It is perhaps the best film of the year in regards to opening itself to showing these feelings and senses. The lust and the love involved in Cold War’s story is entirely unmatched in almost all of modern cinema.
Loosely based on Pawlikowski’s own parents lives, the story does hold a particularly personal nature, and that allows it to flow better than it would if it were, perhaps, completely fabricated. There’s a humane element to Cold War’s affection that is sometimes tough to point a finger at. It is clearly a harsh period piece, but also has the sensual awareness of a modern film with access to all of the same technology as one set and filmed in the current day.
Cold War has a habit of sensualising importance, selfishness and love, giving such an emotive outlook. It’s imagery is astoundingly beautiful, and each scene holds its own secrets and its own accuracy. There’s a precision to Cold War that cannot be dismissed, bringing out the absolute best of the story, and the best of high level film making.
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