Movie Review: 'Cold War'

John Thomas

This cold war has no guns firing bullets at people or falling bombs raising havoc below, but it does have lots of conflicts, subterfuge, plotting and scheming. The setting for Cold War is 50s Poland. WWII may be over, but there remain in Europe many countries with borders to circumvent, intrigues to develop, and lies to unravel. Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) and a colleague have the idea of reintroducing Polish culture to the world by opening a performing arts school, focusing on native music and dance. The screening process for admittance to the school is a performance/audition by prospective students – judged by Wiktor and his colleague.

Of the many applicants, one candidate stands out in Wiktor’s mind – Zula (Joanna Kulig). She is aggressive and performs well, even a bit more than required. She is accepted. Through lots of hard work and devotion, the school and its music and dance performances become a huge success. Shows are planned throughout Poland. The shows come to the attention of government officials who are proud to offer their support – with conditions. The relationship between Wiktor and Zula, in spite of its timid beginning, also flourishes.

As in war scenarios where plots, schemes, maneuvers and clandestine meetings are commonplace, the couple plot their own maneuvers and clandestine meetings. Where military leaders become swept away with the excitement of battle and escalate activities, the lovers do the same. Because of the resounding success of the Polish national song and dance program, the government has offered the troupe an international tour – including performances in Berlin, Paris and theaters in Yugoslavia. Wiktor is thrilled at the thought of leaving Poland and possibly defecting to a new country. He could find work and he and Zula could be together and live freely and happily.

She’s not so sure about the idea and fails to appear at the designated meeting point at the specified hour – something she is prone to do throughout their relationship. He tries several more times without success. With her somewhat scandalous past, she feels more comfortable with the accolades she has earned. Is freedom more important than passion? Wiktor decides to find out. He finds employment at a popular club in Paris; she marries an Italian and becomes an Italian citizen. Both events have made them free, but their intense desire for one another becomes inflamed again when she visits his club in Paris.

The conflict raging between and within each other soon escalates into a full fledged war. There seems to be no end in sight to this war that has so impacted their lives since their initial meeting at the school. How can this conflict end, what will bring closure to this war? The two finally arrive at a solution that will unite them in peace and freedom.

Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski (Credits:  The Woman in the Fifth,  Ada) this “should see” movie runs 88 minutes.


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