Pawel Pawlilowski‘s Cold War “is one of those love-among-the-ruins romances that turn suffering into high style. Like its two sexy leads — who fall for each other and keep on falling — the movie has been built for maximum seduction. It has just enough politics to give it heft, striking black-and-white images and an in-the-mood-for-love ambiguity that suggests great mysteries are in store for those who watch and wait. You won’t wait long. The movie runs just 89 minutes, during which swaths of the 20th century flutter by like a flipbook.
“Pawlikowski has ideas he wants you to chew over, but at times his narrative brevity can make the story feel as if it’s stopping before it has really begun. If you want more, it’s because the worlds he opens up and his two impossible, irresistible lovers — Tomasz Kot and Joanna Kulig — are so beguiling that you would like to linger longer, learn more, see more. The movie is filled with ordinary and surprising beauty, with gleaming and richly textured surfaces, and the kind of velvety black chiaroscuro you can get lost in. Its greatest strengths, though, are its two knockout leads, who give the story its heat, its flesh and its heartbreak.” — from Manohla Dargis‘s N.Y. Times review, posted on 12.20.