Ida ★★

Same principle of shot composition as I found in Godzilla, but almost worst here, because the shots so deliberately call attention to themselves that they end up refracting nothing beyond their own creation. There’s no suggestion of an inner life, no gestures that take on a physical quality, only an artificial surface. (And do not compare to Bresson – yes there’s questions of faith and some rigor, but his shots were simple, rarely long takes, and build around patterns of editing and physical detail; not the broad gestures here. Bergman or Wajda’s early work would be closer, and major thumbs up to Ben Sachs for nailing the Vlacil comparison).

Ida certainly has an interesting premise, and I think pairing the two women both in terms of their acting styles and their characters was a nice choice. But it’s also a broad choice – like many of the details here. There seems to be a portraiture of an era and a character but not much sense of a specificity. I think it mostly comes down to Anna/Ida herself – what is her relationship to God? To the nunnery? To her family? To Poland? – her blank slate wouldn’t matter so much if the film didn’t depend on her for the third act, in which she must confront the consequences of these things, but her actions that follow don’t seem to follow the broadest logical progression. I’ll leave the last note then to Richard Brody: “Nothing in the film is a solid thing or an action; everything is an example.”

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