In Pawel Pawlikowski’s film ‘Cold War’ it’s tough being true to yourself as a musician in Communist Poland. Not only do you have to sing Polish folk songs and tributes to the glorious revolution but you also have a hard time living with the one you love.
The films two main characters composer and pianist Wiktor and singer Zula are divided as one flees to the west and the other elects to say in her homeland.
Yet such an obsessive love refuses to die and they find themselves reunited in Paris again only to discover that they are compromised in a different way as Wiktor makes his living playing piano in a jazz trio and making music for third rate films while hanging out with the shallow demi-monde of Parisian nightlife.
Zula cannot stay to see her lover reduced to such a life and returns to Poland.
Yet Wiktor cannot live without her and returns to Poland to live in an internment camp where he is to be re-educated in the righteous ways of the regime.
It’s rare these days to actually see a straight up heterosexual romance that isn’t a trite mid-brow boy meets girl love fest, so ‘Cold War’ is a welcome, if melodramatic, treat. And like Pawlikowski’s previous film ‘Ida’ it looks amazing with beautifully composed black and white shots straight out of a fine art photographer’s portfolio.
Engaging, inspiring and ultimately harrowing it reinforces the fine tradition of Polish filmmaking and the importance of remaining true to your personal ideals at whatever the cost.