Ida, is set in the early 1960s, and stars the stunning Agata Trzebuchowska (below) as Anna, a young nun who’s about to take her vows, but before she does that, Mother Superior (Halina Skoczynska) recommends she visits her aunt, Wanda Cruz (Agata Kulesza, bottom pic), her only living relative, and who is unwilling to take her away from the orphanage where she’s presently living, making the excuse that Anna wouldn’t be happy living with her, when really, Wanda is a selfish woman who only cares about herself, her boozing and her loose morals, both of which are taken to excess.
However, she then seems to have a complete about-turn, to the point where I thought this was a different character written into the script, as Wanda takes Anna back to the house where her parents lived, so she can find out more about them and their time during World War II. Anna also learns that Ida Lebenstein is her real name, as well as some dark revelations about her family.
During the opening scenes in the nunnery, there’s some curious framing of the image – as director Pawel Pawlikowski has opted to shoot this film in 4:3 and in black & white – generally with people kept to the lower portion of the screen and the location above it. I was guessing this is to exhibit the claustrophobic feeling of her location, but this technique was used later, too. Unfortunately, when two people are at the bottom of the screen talking, the English subtitles are also left at the bottom, so they’re covering up the actors, whereas they should temporarily have been moved to the top so as not to obscure them.
Ida is a road movie, of sorts, which feels like it has great locations and scenery, all in need of a far more engaging first half. I wanted to like this more, but it just feels a little too cold and distant too often. I know it has stark subject matter on occasion, but I just wasn’t gripped as I expected to be, especially after all the good things I’d heard about it.
The film is presented in the original 1.33:1 Academy ratio, as previously stated, and in 1080p high definition and looks absolutely stunning. Many of the locations featured are made to look intentionally grim, but they’re so well-framed and filmed that you just want to jump in and see them first-hand.
The audio is in DTS HD 5.1, but as you’d expect, there’s not going to be any split-surround action here. As such, there’s dialogue, ambience and occasional music, and it all sounds perfectly fine with no complaints.
Sadly, there’s only one extra on this disc and it’s a trailer (1:55), again in 4:3, like the film. The trailer also pretty much spoils the entire film, too! Avoid it until you’ve watched Ida.
Subtitles are in English, as previously stated, and even though this release is intended for the UK market, a lot of people do want to know whether or not the subtitles are turnoffable, so they can watch the film in its original language, untainted by subtitles. And here, yes, you can. They can only be turned off from the main menu, though, but oddly, can’t be turned off from within the film.
Chapters are a bog-standard 12. I feel one should come every five minutes on average. A lot of distributors go for a low 12 however long the film. Artificial Eye’s chaptering tends to vary from disc to disc. Unfortunately, here, it’s just the same old 12. Yes, the film’s only 82 minutes long, compared to almost twice as long for Breaking The Waves, but that’s still no reason to short-change us.
The menu is silent and static. Normally, menus feature clips and music, although given the subject matter, it seems fair as it is.
Running time: 82 minutes
Released: November 10th 2014
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: Polish, Latin, French
Widescreen: 1.33:1 (Codex ARRIRAW)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Producers: Eric Abraham, Piotr Dzieciol and Ewa Puszczynska
Screenplay: Pawel Pawlikowski and Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Music: Kristian Selin Eidnes Andersen
Anna: Agata Trzebuchowska
Wanda: Agata Kulesza
Lis: Dawid Ogrodnik
Szymon: Jerzy Trela
Feliks: Adam Szyszkowski
Mother Superior: Halina Skoczynska
Singer: Joanna Kulig
Kaska: Dorota Kuduk
Bronia: Natalia Lagiewczyk
Marysia: Afrodyta Weselak
Barman: Mariusz Jakus
Waitress: Izabela Dabrowska
Man in Bar: Marek Kasprzyk (uncredited)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.