Amazon Studios | Release Date: December 21, 2018
7.9
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Generally favorable reviews based on 172 Ratings
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137
Mixed:
30
Negative:
5
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6
ladyalymarieDec 26, 2018
I love the aesthetics of the film but not invested with the characters which is an important part of a romance film.
3 of 3 users found this helpful30
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6
tropicAcesDec 23, 2018
If “Phantom Thread” and “A Star is Born” had a love child, and then it starred an actress who looked like Jessica Chastsin and Jennifer Lawrence, had a baby, that would be this movie.
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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5
everettJan 25, 2019
I loved his film "Ida" and bought the DVD afterward. So perhaps my expectations were too high, especially given the reviews. But this is what it came down to: I just didn't care about the characters. All the perfect cinematography - andI loved his film "Ida" and bought the DVD afterward. So perhaps my expectations were too high, especially given the reviews. But this is what it came down to: I just didn't care about the characters. All the perfect cinematography - and stunning art direction on the whole - couldn't compensate for that. I never expected to be bored, yet because I had never been drawn in emotionally, and because of a certain redundancy in the writing, I found it long at an hour and a half.

Also, I had to wonder why he didn't make more use of the "cold war/Stalin" etc. background. I've seen political backdrops put to much better (and more profound) use recently in "Roma" and especially (on TV) "Babylon Berlin." More character development - as in "Ida" - would have helped. This seemed more like a dated stock film than one of the classic b&w's that show us more than passion and gazing. (Lots of "gaze" here, including the director's!) I had to wonder if the years' apart structure was a way to avoid anything resembling an examination of a passionate relationship over time.
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1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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6
GreatMartinJan 25, 2019
A simile? A metaphor? Maybe, even a pun? The title of the movie "Cold War" can refer to the time period the story takes place or the romance, or lack of chemistry between the two leads, or possible the photography of this black and whiteA simile? A metaphor? Maybe, even a pun? The title of the movie "Cold War" can refer to the time period the story takes place or the romance, or lack of chemistry between the two leads, or possible the photography of this black and white film.

We follow Wiktor (Thomas Kot) and Zula (Joanna Kulig) from the beginning of their romance when they meet in Poland where he an accomplished musician, conductor and producer, with his current lover and co-producer, Irena (Agata Kulesza) are auditioning singers and dancers for players in the Mazurek Ensemble which revolve around Polish countryside folk music. Wiktor and Zula fall in love though really not suited for each other and, many times, make selfish decisions that keep them apart though the cold war also interferes with their journey. They never discuss their being unfaithful to each other and what it does to them over time including Zula. In the mix is Kaczmarek (Borys Szyc), who was a driver for Wiktor and Irena and over the years has risen on the political scene.

A lot of the picture takes place in Paris, many scenes in a nightclub, Le Eclipse, and the soundtrack has music from Chopin to Billie Holiday to Bill Haley and the Comets.

The direction by Pawel Pawlikowski, along with cinematographer Lukas Zal, makes "Cold War" in the black and white 4:3 ratio photography look like paintings with each picture worthy of a museum showing. I was taken completely by surprise in the first scene a mirror was used as a background and having another scene with the screen filled with a field and 2 very small people looking like minatures in the lower corner was another wow moment.

Though Thomas Kot and Joanna Kulig didn't have any chemistry between them both present very striking figures, he with his imposing height and intense stare and she with a persona that makes you concentrate on her whenever she is in the camera's eye. It did bother me that she resembles an actress that I just couldn't name!

Last week the movie received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film of 2018 and though it is interesting it is also disappointing mainly because the love story aspect just doesn't deliver. Was "Cold War" a metephor? A Simile? Or was the title a pun reflecting on the couple's love?

If you are looking for a beautiful, moving, involved love story "Cold War" is not for you but if you want to see a beautiful black and white photographed moving picture and, maybe, learning a little about the cold war and how it affected lives this is one for you!
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2 of 3 users found this helpful21
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6
TVJerryFeb 5, 2019
A musician meets a woman at a special camp that trains young people to perform traditional Polish folk songs and dances. This movie follows them as they re-connect every few years thru Europe's Cold War. Their erratic relationship involvesA musician meets a woman at a special camp that trains young people to perform traditional Polish folk songs and dances. This movie follows them as they re-connect every few years thru Europe's Cold War. Their erratic relationship involves more discord then heartfelt emotion, but they keep being drawn back together. Director Pawel Pawlikowski's previous film Ida also featured black and white cinematography and a deliberate pace (my review). Both were nominated for Foreign Film Oscars. This one features numerous musical performances that add some life to the otherwise slow-moving, minimalistic narrative. If you're into the artistry of foreign filmmakers, this will likely appeal, esp. for the visual style and interesting music. In Polish with subtitles. Expand
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6
Bertaut1Dec 21, 2018
Aesthetically perfect, narratively frustrating

Reading around some of the reviews of Zimna wojna [Cold War], I recognise that this should have been a film I liked, as so much of what critics are praising are exactly the kinds of things I
Aesthetically perfect, narratively frustrating

Reading around some of the reviews of Zimna wojna [Cold War], I recognise that this should have been a film I liked, as so much of what critics are praising are exactly the kinds of things I myself often look for in a film. Indeed, I freely acknowledge there's a huge amount to praise here, with elements of the mise en scène borderline genius. However, all the aesthetic brilliance in the world doesn't hide what, for me, is its single greatest flaw - I just didn't care about the two main characters, and I didn't buy their relationship. I'm aware that emotional detachment is exactly what it was going for, and it's probably unfair to criticise a film for successfully doing what it intended to do, but when it ended, all I could think was "meh." Although, to be fair, that may say more about myself than the film.

Written by Paweł Pawlikowski, Janusz Głowacki, and Piotr Borkowski, and directed by Pawlikowski, the film begins in Poland in 1949, two years since a communist government came to power. Composer and pianist Wiktor (Tomasz Kot), his ethnomusicologist producer Irena (Agata Kulesza), and state-sponsored overseer Kaczmarek (Borys Szyc) are travelling through rural communities attempting to find recruits for a folk music school. Wiktor is bored out of his mind, until a young woman named Zula (Joanna Kulig) auditions. Although she doesn't fit the profile of what they are looking for, Wiktor argues that she has "something different." Soon enough, he and Zula are in a relationship. The rest of the film takes place over 20 years and four countries (Poland, France, Yugoslavia, and East Germany), but it never branches out from the central relationship.

To begin with some aspects which I liked. The film's aesthetic is absolutely unparalleled, as Pawlikowski and director of photography Łukasz Żal shoot in Academy ratio (1.37:1), which has the effect of confining the characters within the frame. The nature of the film lends itself to sweeping vistas and cityscapes captured in anamorphic (2.39:1), but, instead, Pawlikowski and Żal use the box-like nature of the Academy frame to trap the characters, who don't seem free even when standing in the vast open countryside.

Another example of the film's extraordinary mise en scène is the opening shot, where shallow focus creates a depth of field so small that the village behind the in-focus singers is completely flattened. This renders it visually inaccessible, and thus compels the audience to concentrate fully on the foreground singers. Compare this with the scene where Kaczmarek is giving a speech extolling the glory of the state, all the while a cow is wandering around in the mud behind him. The use of a deeper focus here means that the cow falls within the larger depth of field, and can be clearly seen, once again directing the audience's attention, only this time that attention is directed away from the foreground character as opposed towards him (an, of course, the cow is an important metaphorical element).

So, why did I not enjoy it? At the end of the day, this is a romance. But it doesn't work as a romance. Yes, it's not what you would call a standard romance by any means, the character motivations and justifications that you'd see in other narratives of this ilk are absent, and maybe because of that, although there was undeniable chemistry between the leads, I just didn't buy their insatiable desire for one another. The problem is, the same thing happens about five times - they meet, have a great time, argue over something, and one runs off. And even at only 85 minutes, this kind of structural repetition becomes, well, repetitive.

These are two people who have precious little respect for one another; beneath all the eroticism and physical attraction, they are simply two irreparably damaged people trying to save one another, living with a co-dependency, but instead hastening each other towards destruction. And as I couldn't buy into the believability of the romance, the entire enterprise floundered. And although the end is very well done, and the last line is spectacular, it left me unmoved, because, by that stage, I just didn't care. True, the structure of the film and the tight editing means that events in their lives are glanced at rather than lingered over, so the kind of nuances and character beats you'd expect are absent. By design, the film is barren and emotionally impenetrable, and in that sense, Pawlikowski seems to have been attempting to construct as detached a narrative as he possibly could. If anything, he succeeds too well.
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5
MarkHReviewsSep 4, 2019
For the average moviegoer, “Cold War” involves heavy lifting under the best of circumstances. It’s shot in black-and-white in Polish with English subtitles.

The film begins in 1949, when Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) and a colleague are traveling
For the average moviegoer, “Cold War” involves heavy lifting under the best of circumstances. It’s shot in black-and-white in Polish with English subtitles.

The film begins in 1949, when Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) and a colleague are traveling around Poland collecting reel-to-reel recordings of indigenous folk songs. Eventually, they develop a state-sponsored program that celebrates Polish culture while eventually genuflecting toward Stalin and Poland’s other oppressors and cold war allies. Along the way, Wiktor selects Zula (Joanna Kulig) as a member of the troupe and, eventually, his lover. After Wiktor defects on a trip to Berlin, they reconnect only to separate in various venues from Yugoslavia to Paris. When Zula decides to flee Paris and return to Poland, Wiktor is willing to go to prison in Poland if he can eventually be by her side. The movie spans the period from 1949 to the mid-1960s.

At its best, this film is stark, yet emotionally rich. In the lead role, Joanna Kulig is riveting. She flourishes in a role written specifically for her by Writer/Director Pawel Pawlikowski. She received the Best Actress award at this year’s European Film Awards. In addition to her impressive acting skills, Kulig also is an accomplished singer, performing folk songs and jazz numbers persuasively. Although his role is more subdued, Kot burns with equal intensity. Together, you can’t keep your eyes off this star-crossed couple. But the whole process is maddening, as the viewer observes, repeatedly, the herculean efforts each will make to be with the other, only to be forced to watch the relationship disintegrate as soon as they are reunited.

Pawlikowski’s script is simply a hot mess. At some points, he seems to be offering a critique of communism and the Eastern Bloc, as the film’s title suggests. At other points, he may be making an existential statement. He also seems to propose that tumult and overt hostility are inevitable in any profound relationship. He gives a glancing blow to the idea that to be human is to be at war with oneself. The overall thesis, apparently, is that life itself is eventually unbearable. This muddle of ideas is perhaps better understood when one realizes that the story is based on the relationship of Pawlikowski’s parents. When they met, she was a ballerina and he a medical student. Throughout their lives, they apparently had a tortured relationship just substantial enough to make the other partner an indispensable antagonist.

The muddled plot makes more pronounced the questionable circumstances under which the primary characters begin their relationship. Wiktor is the conductor and developer of the folk performance. Zula is an interchangeable part in the show. He plucks her out of oblivion at the outset. Given the imbalance of power between the two, it would have been helpful to underline Zula’s willing initial participation, eliminating any impression that she was manipulated or coerced.

As a non-professional filmgoer, I fail to understand why this film has received such acclaim. (It is Poland’s entry at this year’s Oscars. Pawlikowski is nominated for an Oscar for Best Director.) It’s true that the black-and-white imagery is sometimes stunningly memorable and that the performances of Kulig and Kot are exceptional. Unfortunately, ultimately, “Cold War” is eighty-nine minutes in search of a purpose.
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6
SrGusFeb 25, 2020
I will be very honest. I liked the idea of black and white. It brings melancholy. The film is more of a melancholy than a novel. And the last few minutes of the film only reinforce that.
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