“Cold War” is a movie about trying to escape, but it’s certainly not escapist entertainment.
The picture tells the story of a singer, Zula (Joanna Kulig), and a composer, Wiktor (Tomasz Kot). Zula and Wiktor find themselves as part of a government funded music group in Poland, which is tasked with giving pro-Stalin performances.
The two soon find themselves in a romance, but they’re also in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, making things difficult. As a result, the two consider fleeing Poland. However, the power of the government and life in general throw a lot of issues at the couple.
“Cold War” is a tragic love story, where happiness is constantly evading the two lead characters. The film puts its main couple through the ringer, and does it over an extended period of time, checking in during several moments over the course of several years.
The somber portrait of people trying to find joy in life despite difficult situations is captivating to watch. It’s especially compelling as the passion of their relationship does shine through the hardships they sometimes face, and gives the movie more energy.
Admittedly, there are times when the jumping forward in years makes the movie feel a bit too episodic. Additionally, some of the situations the characters find themselves in after some of these changes in time are more engaging than others.
While one scene may be weaker overall than another, though, the movie is able to continue holding an audience’s attention thanks to the very strong lead performances here. Kulig and Kot are on fire in this movie, with each giving a memorable performance.
Kulig lends a completely unforgettable performance, amazingly portraying a tortured character who is continually unable to get a grip on happiness for her life. Kot, meanwhile, convincingly portrays a man who tries to plan and control a situation but is often unable to. It’s definitely a situation of one character being a yin and the other being a yang.
“Cold War” is also very pleasing to the eyes and ears. The cinematography is beautiful and crisp, while the score is smooth and charming. There’s a very jazzy, suave atmosphere thanks to the aesthetic on display here, and it adds a lot of meaning to the picture. Additionally, while sometimes making a modern movie black and white seem like a gimmick, it does fit the mood with this picture.
Although it’s a challenging picture because of the immense struggles the lead pair go through, “Cold War” is a film worth seeing thanks to wonderful craftsmanship. It has some issues with its story execution, but for the most part excels in a lot of areas. 4.25 out of 5.