Over the last three weeks, I have been geeking out over the im-fucking-peccable Every Frame a Painting series. (Seriously, Tony Zhou has forgotten more about film form than I’ll ever know.)
I’m curious what he’d make of Ida–mostly because I don’t know what to make of it.
For such an ‘uncomplicated’ movie, there are a metric fuck ton of unresolved contradictions.
- It was shot with an Arri Alexa (currently, the only digital motion picture device that when operated by skilled hands neither resembles film nor looks completely shitty);
- It’s both deceptively simple and pared down to a compact core of brooding uncertainty;
- It’s both a road movie and a chamber play;
- It undertakes a fan-boy syncretism of the Baroque, Dreyer‘s The Passion of Joan of Arc, hard bop jazz and Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love–and mostly succeeds.
Also, the compositions are just straight up weird. Not in a bad way–there is a rigorous logic informing them.
- Pay close attention to how characters are isolated within the frame,
- In the rare instance where characters are presented together in the same frame, observe how they relate to each other in space?
- Why do feet appear within the frame so rarely?
In other words: there is clearly a pervasive authorial design to the more outlandish decisions. But to me it reads as an effort to unnecessarily ‘artify’ the proceedings. I adore Ida’s vacillation between her vows as a nun and the carnality of the world inherent in Coltrane’s Naima far too much to hold Pawlikowski’s failings against the film, but still I can’t help wondering what could’ve been if he’d simply played it straight.