If your family was killed in World War II, could you really recover to lead a normal life? Maybe that is why there were so many women in the Catholic sisterhood in the 1950’s.

IdaIda, a Polish movie in subtitles filmed entirely in black and white, is a depressing film about the hopelessness of life. There is an absence of humor and few smiles.

Raised in a convent in the 1950s where she was left for unknown reasons during World War II, Ida is on the verge of taking her vows to become a Roman Catholic nun. Will she, should she, and why should she care?

Let me just say that the Roman Catholic Superior of her convent decides that Ida needs to visit her Aunt Wanda before taking her vows in several weeks. Wanda (Agatha Kukesca) is an aunt who has never bothered to visit Ida, and there obviously exists a secret that Ida needs to explore.

Ida (Agata Trzebuchowska) then shows up on Wanda’s doorstep, a woman surprised to see her but not terribly annoyed. You’ll quickly learn that she is a chain-smoking, alcoholic Judge who beds down with whatever man is available at her next bar stop. She is a haunted woman.

The film centers around Ida’s attempt to find her parents’ grave and the loss of someone close Wanda. Something horrible happened in World War II, complicated by the revelation that Ida is a Jewish girl about to become a Catholic nun.

What you see unfold is the colossal destruction of life in Eastern Europe even for those who survived World War II. Loved ones were lost at a horrible cost, and everyone carried an emotional burden that took many to the edge of destruction. Wanda’s torment forced her to choose her own fate, while Ida had to decide whether to return to the convent or pursue a run with an extraordinarily nice saxophonist that takes them both to bed.

As they wake up the next morning, Ida asks him, “Why should I follow you to your next gig?” He responds, “Well, we could get married and have two children.” When Ida answers, “What do we do then?”, he sardonically says, “Well, live life.”

Right or wrong, Ida seemed unimpressed. Despite being Jewish, do you think she returned to the convent?