Cold War is one of the five foreign films nominated for an Oscar this year. Sure, it is in subtitles, but who cares when you’re watching a significant movie?
In some respects, director Paweł Pawlikowski’s Cold War is a Polish version of Syndey Pollack’s Terms of Endearment (1983). Instead of recreating the roles played by Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford in the American film, Pawlikowski allows Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot to play lovers who are kept apart by fate for decades.
First and foremost, this movie is an enchanting romantic story that Pawlikowski modeled after his own parents. The film begins in Poland in 1949 where Mr. Kot plays Wiktor, a talented pianist who is leading a small group to recruit unknown singers to participate in a stage show focusing on Polish songs and dances. Many of these scenes are visually stunning, and they occur throughout the film.
While Wiktor and his associate test a variety of singers to see who has the most talent, he becomes entranced by Zula (Ms. Kulig), a beautiful blond whose captivating voice is equaled by a devil-may-care attitude. A romance between the two quickly develops and they face challenges that neither anticipated.
Much of eastern Europe, including Poland, fell under the brutal rule of the Soviet Union following World War II. In the process, as Wiktor and Zula are required to travel and perform across Europe, trouble meets them that forces the two lovers into different directions. Thereafter, in spite of the fact that they harbor the hope of finding a way to exist in each other’s arms, Wiktor and Zula see each other only sporadically through the next two decades, ending up in other relationships that they hope will drown their aching hearts.
There have been some great love stories appearing on the big screen over the years, but many of them end with our lead characters forced to walk away and say goodbye. Think of Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind (1939). What makes this film so unique is that you have two adults so emotionally attached to each other that they will never give up hope of once again walking hand in hand as they join together to confront life’s obstacles.