Author Topic: Ida  (Read 2597 times)

Totoro

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Ida
« on: June 08, 2014, 08:28:01 PM »
Religion Vs. Progeny.

Ida, our protagonist, is very committed to becoming a sister in a Catholic monastery until she finds out that she's the second-last to her family due to the fact that her family was mostly killed due to betrayals during the Holocaust. Ida isn't even her name. She's told quite bluntly by her aunt, whom she meets from pressure of her of the Mother Superior, that her birth name is Anna and that she is actually a Jew. This very understandably shatters her identity completely and the film follows her pick up the pieces of that identity to either put it back together how it previously was or completely reshape it.

What follows is devastatingly bleak in only the way a filmmaker like Bergman or Bresson could do.

The aunt - Wanda is her name - pushes her newly discovered niece to join her on a journey to learn where her parents were buried, partly to give substance to the reality that she provided Ida, but also partly to give a reason as to why she should reproduce over being a sister. There's a concept from Chuck Snyder's SAVE THE CAT which suggests that all stories, deep down, should have a primal charge beneath the centralized plot. As stated previously, the primal charge here is to continue the line. A sister cannot and will not reproduce - Ida will give her entire life to the church. Wanda desperately struggles to get Ida or Anna to find the importance in reproduction and "ordinary life" (or as another states near the film's end "the usual") in order for her to attain the life that Wanda always wanted but was never granted due to the horrible time period she was born into.

I find myself with not much else to say. It's damning that after so much time, I can only provide a very literal literary analysis on this film.

I can still feel the knot in my stomach.

FlickingDC

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Re: Ida
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2014, 10:53:48 PM »
I thought this film was a really great look at how national traumas affect individual lives well into the future, and how different people try to cope with that trauma. Our lives can be shaped (and deformed) not only by events at the personal level but at the global level. The actress who played the aunt did an amazing job of capturing a haunted soul. It was heartbreaking to think of what this person might have been were it not for the horrific events of World War II and the rise of communism in Poland after the war. And the actress who played the main character was wonderful in depicting the way that learning things about one's past might cause one to question one's life trajectory. I loved that the film was subtle in many ways, including having an ending that was not the one you would expect in light of the buildup.

sdb_1970

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Re: Ida
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2014, 10:10:57 AM »
It's really great that you liked this film (not being sarcastic) because it proves how subjective the experience of film really is.  I went in with high-ish expectations, although after I looked a little closer after my viewing, I realized how many of the reviews were actually lukewarm.

As the credits started rolling, the guy behind me said (quite audibly) to his significant other, "so what."  That kind of sums it up for me too.  The whole 88 minutes are very enigmatic, but superficial.  Filmmakers have gone to the Nazi/holocaust well so many times that it is difficult to imagine seeing something we have not seen several times before - thematically or emotionally.  (Lore (2013) is probably the last film I have seen that covered that time and place in a relatively new way.)  As it turns out, the filmmakers here - while very interested in dense visual atmosphere, aspect ratios, still photograph-like cinematography, etc. - are not that interested in delving too deeply into anything substantive

Now, they could have taken a subplot like the history with the family that eventually took over the home of Ida's family and explored something nuanced about the limits of mercy and self-preservation.  But the film saunters around this aspect like all of its themes, and I found the handling of that episode to be frustratingly inert.

I say frustrating because a lot of the scant 88 minutes is spent gazing at characters who are saying/doing so little.  Quiet films (in terms of and action) can be effective; but you need to give the viewer something else.  What we get, for the most part, is brooding in a bar, brooding in a car, brooding in a hospital, brooding in a nunnery, brooding post coitus, etc.  I mean, at that point in the film, am I the only one who didn't see Ida's aunt jumping out the window coming?

And although I don't blame the actress who played the title character (given what she has to work with in terms of a script/direction), I have yet to see a more catatonic performance this year.  The fact that she conveys virtually no personality - from beginning to end - kind of sucks the life out of any attempt at a character arc or change in identity.

With no real sense of emotional complexity, by the time I got to the deliberately vague ending, I just didn't care.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2014, 10:13:16 AM by sdb_1970 »
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Totoro

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Re: Ida
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2014, 04:57:49 PM »
Maybe it's the exhaustion of similarly set films that gives you reserve from fully engaging with the questions and themes raised in the film. Or maybe it's the similar thing with Martin - "critics LOVE this, why don't I?" - and you were thinking why you didn't love it throughout.

Having watched so many films, writing so many reviews (quiet, Verbals), and reading so many reviews, it becomes apparent to me that what matters most is how open your mind is to a movie and how you see the movie i.e. what conditions you are in and who you are with. It has absolutely nothing to do with the movie itself, but almost everything else. However, there are some movies that you can be prepared 100% for and still dislike. I often feel the former from the reviews I have read with this film.

Personally speaking, I have never seen a film that is literally about a nun's struggle to either become religiously celibate or continue a family that she does not know and may not care about. The aunt's entire strategy is to emotionally manipulate Anna to not become a nun.

karlwinslow

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Re: Ida
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2015, 11:50:21 AM »
i didn't feel the weight of the "continue the family line" that you're going with.  the film juxtaposes the religious life with the sinful life. ida lives a quiet, no frills life, while her aunt's life is superficially full of "life". it's loud but hollow. Ida sees that life for what it is after she experiences it. the vagueness of the ending comes from whether or not she sees life in the covenant as hollow as well.  where exactly is she walking too?

karlwinslow

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Re: Ida
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2015, 11:56:29 AM »
Now, they could have taken a subplot like the history with the family that eventually took over the home of Ida's family and explored something nuanced about the limits of mercy and self-preservation.  But the film saunters around this aspect like all of its themes, and I found the handling of that episode to be frustratingly inert.

this was my biggest problem with the film. it felt like it wanted to be this deep exploration of faith, what extreme evil does to somebody, healing, grace, choices, etc. but what i came away with was a lot of nothing. and i think it was the performance of the girl who played ida. she is completely vapid. there's no feeling in anything she experiences, which makes for not that much of an interesting film.

the viewer is in her shoes, we learn about these past atrocities as she does, and yet nothing shows in her performance. she grew up in a convent, but it seems to inform nothing she does (except shy away from "bad" things). the view of convent life seems extremely reductive (although i have no experience to base this off of). the film tries to show the hollowness of some experience, but it does so in a such a hollow way that theres nothing there to chew on.

oneaprilday

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Re: Ida
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2015, 08:37:43 PM »
I'm with you on this one, Karl.

MartinTeller

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Re: Ida
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2015, 08:40:12 PM »
Me too.
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karlwinslow

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Re: Ida
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2015, 02:02:38 PM »
great cinematography though.

Jeff Schroeck

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Re: Ida
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2015, 07:12:07 PM »
I didn't really see that much exploration of faith itself. I saw in Ida and Wanda the struggle to right themselves after, like FlickingDC said, a major event directly or indirectly took away their choice in their own lives. Wanda "chose" what could be assumed to have been the easier way to get through life, with the perks that come with it, whether it's political power or not being killed or thrown in jail. She's had to live with this for years, and after Ida comes and forces her to remember what she'd done, and how she may have been no better than the family that killed her sister, she makes the tragic last choice of her life.

When the farmer(?) tells Ida that he killed her family and put her in the convent, she seems to come to a realization that the only reason she is about to commit her life to the church is because this guy decided that for her. When she's watching the girls wash each others hair I feel like she's wondering who made the choices for them. She leaves and spends the night with the sax man, who immediately begins planning her life with him. It's not that serious, but she seems like she might realize she's unable to know whether she can ever truly act or if everything will be a reaction.

I'm not sure where she's going at the end. Maybe to confront the farmer?