5 October 2018.
COLD WAR **** (vo Polish)
This Polish film is a work of great art: the art of luminous black and white cinematography; the art of utter, hopeless love; the art of jazz in its heyday; and the art of depicting power play and politics as they were, are, and will always be – basic, human, a one-hand-washes-the-other game.
Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski, who last won a slew of awards for his more austere film “Ida”, this time depicts a love that is both instant attraction and eternal longing, driven by the wrong decisions and long separations of the two star-crossed lovers.
It all starts in a state-run music academy in late 1940s Poland, where a beautiful student and an attractive professor fall in love. The school’s strong Communist tendencies propel the choir and dancers into ever more important musical tours to the Eastern block satellites of the Soviet Union and finally East Berlin, where the professor decides to flee with his love to the West and freedom. But it does not necessarily work out that way.
There is exhilarating Paris with its jazz dives, intellectual freedom and open society. But an atmosphere free of constraints is not always the best soil for the growth of a relationship, especially when the girl feels homesick and out of place in the West.
This mesmerizing tale of the two meandering lovers is dedicated to the director’s parents. And after having received the Director’s Award in Cannes, it is Poland’s nominee in competition for this year’s Best Foreign-film Oscar.
AMIN ***1/2 (vo French)
There is a great deal of resentment towards the millions of refugees scattered around the world. More than 65 million of them! The very fact of it is a huge, tragic scandal, and the cause is obviously due to the many wars and injustices forced upon them by the more powerful nations. And so there are myriad arguments on both sides of the spectrum – to help one’s fellow man or to block them from entering one’s country…that is the question and terrible dilemma.
This story simply takes the viewer into the heart of the matter – showing immigrants as the humans they are, with families they miss, relatives they must support back home, and their empty everyday lives in Europe lacking any personal warmth or closeness.
Amin (Moustapha Mbengue) from Senegal is a typical case – a decent, proud, hard-working fellow with much on his shoulders. So when an open, kind French woman (Emmanuelle Devos), whose house he is working on, takes him into her bed, how can he refuse despite having a wife and children in Senegal.
Director Philippe Faucon has created here a gentle tale of human frailty, longing and loyalty, on both sides of the divide: Amin’s life in France and his life back in his village, and it all rings real and true.
THE GUILTY *** (vo Danish)
This film is not for the faint-hearted, with its tension that is so gripping and palpable. For we’re in a huit-clos in the emergency section of the Danish police, and concerned with one specific officer who is on the phone with a woman who seems to have been kidnapped.
Throughout the whole film we are seeing the circumstances unfolding only on his face. We hear her pleas on the speakerphone and feel her fear, we observe his desperate attempts to find her whereabouts, as he talks her through her ordeal. And as events develop, the situation also seems to evolve. For as in life, there are multiple sides to every story, including the officer’s own life and background.
Brilliant acting by Jacob Cedergren as the officer, and tight script and direction by Gustav Möller make for a nail-biting, introspective one-and-a-half hours of a thriller that is also deeply human and psychological. Ah, those intense Nordics.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.