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  • Writer's pictureMax Markowitz

Cold War

"A Lovely Dream You Never Want to Wake Up From..."

Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War is a lovely dream you never want to wake up from. Set over two decades and numerous locations across Europe, the film begins post World War 2 Poland and follows the romance between conductor, Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) and Zula (Joanna Kulig) the young singer he recruits for his choir ensemble. Their romantic bliss is disrupted when Zula (who's still on probation for an act of violence against her father) fails to meet Wiktor for their planned escape from Poland. They meet up years later, love still clearly between them. There’s an air of danger and threats in the time they are living in that seems to be keeping them apart. How these two people deal with this is the films central conflict and it’s a big one because these people clearly belong with each other. Zula has a confident nature that is both admirable and envious. Wiktor has significant talent and a level of vulnerability women back than would only hope their man would have. Together, they are completely themselves.

Kot’s performance is that of a man everyone wants to be with. He doesn’t feel obligated or pressured to be with Zula. He wants to be with her, and her unmentionable fear of a future doesn't keep him from her. He is a rare gentleman who knows love when he feels it.

Kulig’s performance is mystifying and unpredictable but always fun and amazing. Her singing flees from the ground to the moon. Without the subtitles, I’d have no idea what she’s singing but her voice has such enrichment to it that it keeps every audience member afloat on this voyage she set sail for. She loves Wiktor unconditionally but there's this fear that she never verbalizes that holds her back emotionally, yet her talent never seems to suffer. The way Kulig approaches Zula is like she’s approaching an expensive boutique and selecting the most expensive items as Zula is a cinematic character that deserves the best and Kulig gives her all the nourishment she needs to let her audiences in.

Pawlikowski’s direction is tear jerking as the film is inspired by his parent’s romance. I’m sure making Cold War was like trying to keep a high stack of dominos from crashing down. Everything had to be just perfect and that’s precisely what the overall outcome was. I couldn't be more touched and happier for him regarding his recent Oscar nomination in direction and foreign language film. His writing is also original perfection because the manner in which he created these two characters is so touching because again, they are based on his parents and I can’t imagine him knowing them any better. The film is 85 minutes long and films this short usually feel rushed. I feel the need to inform readers Cold War is not rushed, it is right. 100 percent right in every way.

Cinematographer, Lukasz Zal also received an Oscar nomination for his work and if it wasn't for the inevitable Roma, he’d have my vote as my first statement about the film being a lovely dream you never want to wake up from is exactly how I’d describe Zal’s work. The beauty he injects in Cold War will knock audiences right out and leave them in a state of indescribable wonder.

There’s a part of your soul that will go to Wiktor and Zula when you witness Cold War. A part of your soul they will take from you and never give back. Prepare yourself for inspiration, occasional laughter and a sigh of acknowledging true excellence.

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