I went into Cold War hoping to receive some limited salvation from this abysmal year in movies at the hand of Paweł Pawlikowski, the director of Ida, one of the best movies of the last 10 years. Something, maybe, to eke out at least a Top 5 of 2018. No such luck.
The problem is that despite the magnetism of the femme fatale Joanna Kulig, the movie is a narrative jumble, especially in the latter half as transitions from one stage to the next seem unfounded and disingenuous. I wasn’t entirely buying the love story at the heart of the movie either — the chemistry did not work 100%.
I BLAME AMAZON
For all the narrative issues, I blame Amazon, not the director. Bezos didn’t stick his fingers in Ida, and the result was a lot better.
The dreaded square-frame-for-no-reason rears its ugly head again too. It was not at all distracting here, but unlike with Ida, it did not seem to add anything either. Nonetheless, I liked the singing, I liked the music, and I liked the dancing. All very nice. There were some luminous moments to be certain. And the star’s magnetism throughout, even if she’s a bit spoiled. The post-war Polish setting provided some edification as well. And finally, maybe I’m giving someone too much credit, but I think there’s a clever double entendre with the title as a cherry on top. 7/10
Comparison Notes: the aforementioned Ida, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, La Dolce Vita, Barbara, Wings of Desire, Under the Skin, A Star Is Born (2018), La La Land, Leviathan, Blue Valentine