Let me start by saying that I absolutely love an 80-minute movie. When did everyone decide that for a film to be legitimate, it has to hover around the two-hour mark? It’s like everyone’s back in high school, trying to get the term paper to 10 pages. The brilliance of this story is only amplified by its brevity. 

Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska) is an orphaned novice in Poland, raised in a convent and about to take her final vows to become a nun. When the Mother Superior informs her that she has a living relative, Anna goes to visit the woman, her Aunt Wanda (Agata Kulesza). Wanda, a former Communist Party insider, is now a jaded outcast. She informs Anna that her real name is Ida, that she is Jewish, and that her parents were murdered during the Nazi occupation. Together, the two women embark on a journey to uncover the past, and hopefully put it to rest.

Describing the plot of the film doesn’t really begin to scratch the surface here. The direction is masterful. Each shot is breathtaking without being distracting or pretentious. The film focuses on the microcosm of this simple girl’s tragedy to powerfully portray the sweeping devastation of two brutal regimes on a vulnerable nation. The film is in Polish with subtitles; but to be honest, you don’t need to read or understand a single word. It’s an 8.

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