IDA is a beautiful, sad, and ultimately unforgettable Polish film. Its evocation of post-World War II, early 1960s Poland captures so much in a mere 80 minutes, from the bureaucratic blatherings of Communist officials, to rural Poles struggling with the vacillations between resistance and complicity they experienced during the Nazi occupation, to young beatnik musicians finding a sense of joy and freedom in playing "Naima" by John Coltrane. This film fearlessly explores themes of identity, the Holocaust and its survivors, spirituality, ideology, and survival in the aftermath of deep personal and historical tragedy. The choice to film Ida in stark and vivid black and white heightens and underscores the burden of history on these characters, and the acting, across the board, is nothing short of brilliant.
There's so much beauty, despair, and even traces of humor in the journey undertaken in search of where Ida's parents -- who were killed during the Holocaust -- are buried. As Ida begins to experience the secular world, and Wanda continues to descend into cynicism and dissipation through alcohol and her career as a judge for the Communist Party, there is so much profundity of time and place, of the personal and political, of a search for meaning. Ida deserves a place among the very best movies ever made about the Holocaust and its survivors.