Cold War Strikes a Chord

A Passionate Love Affair Bathed in Sexy Jazz

BY: Claire Connors

Based loosely on his own parents’ volatile and complicated relationship, writer/director Pawel Pawlikowski sets his newest film, Cold War, in late 1940s post-war Poland, where his mother and father met. Like his Academy Award-winning film, Ida (2013), Pawlikowski shoots Cold War in gorgeous black and white in vintage-looking 4:3 aspect ratio, lending the memory piece an extra, quite exquisite layer of time gone-by.

Perhaps inspired by the equally beautiful—but much more colorful—La La Land (2016), Pawlikowski presents this passionate and sometimes violent tale of love found, lost, and found again, into a musical of sorts.

Witkor (Tomasz Kot), a tall, dark, and very handsome musician and Irena (Agata Kulesza), a broadcasting producer, are touring isolated war-torn Polish villages in search of talented teenagers to perform in a production of traditional Polish music and dance. They meet the undeniably stunning Zula (Joanna Kulig), a cool-headed singer whose patricide past only inflames Witkor’s lust for the young and luscious Zula. Their first passionate kiss jumpstarts the couple’s unending sexual desire for each other.

Of course their torrid affair crashes, burns, and ultimately settles into its own cold war, as they reunite over 14 years in different countries, including the jazz-infected Paris of the 1950s. Kulig’s singing is spectacular. Her smoky vocals make you feel like you’re sipping a cocktail in a basement jazz club. Check out her performance in the clip below.

Already garnering awards around the world, including Best Director at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Cold War is a shoe-in for Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards this year. We’re not sure how the film ends, but in a recent interview Pawlikowski reveals that his parents’ problematic romance spanned 40 years until their deaths in 1989.

Cold War opens December 21st.