Film Discussion Tuesday Night: Ida​

and I fear that it’s going to be a hard sell.

First, the movie is Polish. Second, it’s in black and white. Third, it’s a story about a young nun on a road trip to find out about her family’s past. Fourth, although I haven’t seen the movie, I expect that the chances for the usual selling points of summer films—sex, violence, car chases, immoderate behavior—are extremely limited.

My own enthusiasm for the movie is based on reading reviews by some of my favorite reviewers, all of whom love the movie to death. It gets four out of four stars from almost everyone. And the people who aren’t crazy about it (not very darn many) are quite open about their low tolerance for quiet movies with strong emotional payoffs. (It doesn’t pay to have rock-and-roll critics review Beethoven string quartets.)

I know that at some point, Ida, the nun for whom the movie is named, finds out something about her family’s past. And in the Communist Poland of the 1960, when the movie is set, the biggest stories waiting to be discovered are about the anti-Semitic campaigns of World War II.

I suppose I could have included that under the list of hard-sell points above, but I have a couple of points that I’m hoping will overcome your objections, if you have them.

First, a great villain makes for high emotional stakes, and the Holocaust is one of the enduring villainies of all time. Second, we get very few opportunities to see genuinely beautiful black and white movies these days; your eyes and your sense of beauty will thank you. Third, just as steaks with a bone in the middle have the most flavor, movies with a hard truth in the middle make for wonderful discussions.

I hope to see you there. Also, keep Snowpiercer, the Korean ultraviolent thriller that we will be seeing on August 26 on your calendar. That should make up for an entire summer of missed violent mall flicks.

Paul Goodwin