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Review: Cold War – Zimna wojna (2018)

Cold War – Zimna wojna (2018)

Directed by: Pawel Pawlikowski | 89 minutes | drama, music | Actors: Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc, Agata Kulesza, Cédric Kahn, Jeanne Balibar, Adam Woronowicz, Adam Ferency, Drazen Sivak, Slavko Sobin, Aloïse Sauvage

The stylish black and white of ‘Cold War’ almost makes you think that you are watching a documentary of Poland in the post-war years. But the dream eyes of Zula (Joanna Kulig) work timeless wonders. She, a country girl with singing talent, ends up in the world of Wiktor (Tomasz Kot), a composer of jazz music. The two fall in love, so be it. The hypothermic creative has the option of fleeing to the west if he feels compelled to do so by the creeping communist propaganda. She is a spirited pragmatist and misses an appointment to escape together.

The promise of love remains, because it is hard to refute when two lovers can’t really be together. Although, the two are very often together for a love deemed impossible, according to the devil’s advocate. Is she using him, is he using her? Only the loved ones in question know that – of themselves, and at times of the other. She gets married, and they continue to see each other. “The most important thing is that you’re not married,” Zula says. The femme fatale on duty (a nice Kulig) is fine; he is more unfathomable, also for the viewer. “I love him and that’s all,” Zula says in a drunken stupor. Zula likes Wiktor in Poland; outside it seems just sex.

‘Cold War’ is mainly Zula’s story, with Wiktor as a secondary party. Little news so far on the all-time love front, but the glow of black and white dreams continues to shine on the film couple, not least because of the impassioned, tender folk songs and photographic style. When the two are together it is in a different world than the everyday. Perhaps romantic love can only survive if both accept it and live an itinerant life. And they do. Extremely suitable for the large canvas. The jumps in time (1949-1955-1964) make the story somewhat sketchy, and the tragedy of the impossible great love is missing.

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