Like everyone else who writes about films, I’m working on a year-end top-ten movies-of-2014 list. Here are some short pieces I wrote throughout the year about some of the contenders:
If I see a better movie than IDA released in theaters in 2014, I will consider myself one very lucky movie-lover. But I highly doubt that’s going to happen.
This is a movie about a young nun in 1960s Poland, about to take her vows when she’s informed that she was born Jewish. With her one known relative, a caustic aunt with a troubled history, she sets out to find her family’s final resting place.
IDA looks like a prestige picture and it is one, but also it’s a road movie and a buddy movie, a coming-of-age movie and even a detective movie. That’s not to imply that this is a film that is light of heart; it very literally carries the weight of the world. But I invoke those genre touchstones as a way to say that this is one highly watchable prestige picture.
Sadly, most people — myself included — look at a black-and-white period picture about a Polish nun, and worry it’ll be a chore to sit through, a homework movie. It’s not that. For a movie set in the 1960s that looks for all the world as if it could have been made then also, IDA feels remarkably alive, current, relevant. It accomplishes so much in half the running time of any given superhero movie.
This is a movie about faith, family, nature, nurture, history, pain, hope, hopelessness, and acceptance. It’s about so many of the most important things in life, and it’s only 80 minutes long. Time-wise, that’s a steal at the price of three modern-day superhero movies.
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