Cold War [2018] ★★★½

This stunning movie from Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski is up for 3 Academy Awards, and deservedly so. Shot in beautiful black and white and set against the backdrop of the 1950’s Cold War in Poland, Pawlikowski tells an impossible love story between two musicians: Wiktor (Tomasz Kot), a jazz musician putting together a traditional folk group that sings traditional songs about love and heartbreak, and  Zula (wonderfully played by Joanna Kulig), who joins his group to become a professional singer. The emotional impact comes from our ability to relate to these characters from the word go, and you couldn’t ask for better actors to fulfill this mission. There were times where I forgot I was watching a modern film and convinced myself that both these actors were straight-out of a 1950’s film. That’s not to say that the film is merely a star vehicle. Everything else, from the music to the costumes to the cinematography, are simply beautiful. “Cold War” is clearly a labor of love for Pawlikowski and his collaborators, and the result is cinematically and emotionally dazzling. It’s a thing of beauty.

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