Movie #109 2020: Cold War (2018)

This is one of those movies that deservedly gained love and attention at the Oscars, but ultimately left empty-handed. Honestly, I wrote my university dissertation on the Cold War, so this was always on my watch list. I had no idea that it wasn’t actually about the Cold War before going in, but boy, what I got was a gift.

Aside from the choice to shoot this movie in black and white, one of the most striking cinematography decisions is the use of a 4:3 aspect ratio. It is so rare to see a modern film choose that, but it is so refreshing to see, and absolutely relevant to the plot. This is a movie that just oozes style, and it’s a really admirable choice in the grand scheme of modern cinema.

In regards to relevance, there are many shots within this that take you right back to the 1950s. Some of the shots used are so interesting to look at, and are unique whilst simultaneously having a very Fellini flavour to them. Because Pawel Pawlikowski collates all of these ideas so seamlessly and with a flawless flow, it makes for such an emotionally beautiful and visually beautiful movie. On top of that, there’s a perfect cast too. Lead by native Polish actress Joanna Kulig – who is absolutely spot on – each character is so very believable that you forget this isn’t a documentary.

My hot take on this movie? It’s better than Roma (2018). Not only is it easier to follow, it’s way less challenging, it flows better, it is equally as unique, and it is nicer to look at. There, I said it. Shoot me, film nerds.

Unfortunately, I have seem some unwarranted criticism for Cold War by a few keyboard warriors. Interestingly, the toughest critics of this movie tend to be American. This is obviously a very European movie, so where I see Americans throwing words like ”soulless” and ”empty” at it, I’d wager that a European audience sees it as ”understated” and ”raw”. That’s exactly what I took away from it, anyway. There’s no big song and dance around the love story – which is ironic because of all the singing and dancing – and what we get instead is a romance that feels honest and true and lifelike.

If unrealistic fantasy Hollywood ideals of romance is what you want, go watch La La Land.

Cold War is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video in the UK.

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