Cold War (2018)

Out Now On-Demand

Love has no borders.

A passionate romance between two mismatched people, set in 1950s Cold War Poland. Multi-award winner at festivals around the world, including Best Director at Cannes 2018.

"Based loosely on the story of the director's own parents, Cold War covers the entirety of a couple's love affair, from their enchanted first meeting in 1949 to the aching denouement of their relationship in the 1960s. Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) is a jazz-loving pianist and musical director tasked with auditioning traditional folk musicians as part of a state-sponsored project to champion culture from rural Poland. Young Zula (Joanna Kulig), who turns out to be more torch singer than folk singer, captivates Wiktor at first sight with her beauty and insouciance. Their fates joined, Zula and Wiktor are soon struggling both with personal demons and historical forces that persist in tearing them apart." (Toronto International Film Festival)



Nominated for the Palm d'Or, winner of Best Director, Cannes 2018.

Directed by

Drama, Romance, Historical, World Cinema, Festival & Independent


Rating: M Offensive language, sex scenes & suicide references

Polish with English subtitles

Poland, France, UK

As this black and white film opens with villagers singing folk songs in post-WWII Poland for the benefit of archivists, you’d be forgiven for making a grievous error—that an invigoratingly romantic experience is not about to make your heart explode. For his follow-up to Oscar-winner Ida, Pawel Pawlikowski sought inspiration from his parents’ tempestuous marriage, and the resulting tale (which won him Best Director at Cannes 2018) introduces a pair of mismatched musicians to one another, following them through an intense love affair over the subsequent decade.

In Tomasz Kot and Joanna Kulig, Cold War has incredibly photogenic and supremely talented leads. They light up the frame of this beautifully-lensed film and, unsurprisingly, each other from the moment they meet, when Wiktor (Kot) discovers Zula (Kulig) while talent-scouting. Wiktor is tasked with assembling a regional folk group to showcase Polish culture internationally, Zula is a show-stopper at her audition, and the pair quickly falls into a passionate affair while Zula’s star rises as the standout performer of the ensemble.

After the troupe is turned into a Communist-era propaganda tool, the pair becomes separated by the nascent Iron Curtain, and innocent folk songs give way to jazz and smoky chanteuse numbers in the more permissive West. Charting the passing of time and the narrative of Wiktor and Kulig’s love affair, Cold War’s musical performances are captivating, seemingly effortless extensions of Kot and Kulig’s characters in an utterly convincing, compelling way that rivals the efforts of A Star Is Born.

As far as stars go, Kulig makes one of herself here, or should if there’s any justice, as she nails every nuance of her character’s development from not-so-innocent kinda-ingenue, and proves a show-stopper on stage. With musical numbers and romance sizzling the screen, Pawlikowski somehow manages to whip through this decade-and-a-half-long tale in a mere 88 minutes, this all killer, no filler love story at turns reaching right into your heart for squeezes both gentle and much more crushing.



Cold War will only increase Pawlikowski's reputation as one of the next great auteurs, but, more importantly, it will have everyone who sees it asking, "What's that girl's name?" Ladies and gentlemen, her name is Joanna Kulig has she has arrived.

Hollywood Reporter


A thrilling exploration of romantic disappointment with a killer soundtrack.

Los Angeles Times


This is an achingly personal story - the romantic leads are named after Pawlikowski's own parents, to whom the film is dedicated - and also a sadly resigned one.

The Guardian (UK)


There is an exquisite chill to this film.

TIME Magazine


It deftly walks the line between appropriately somber and great, sophisticated fun.

Variety (USA)


A soberly moving study of the disappointment and insecurity that can blossom from supposed renewal: It's a romance in which new beginnings and endings can be hard to tell apart.



It's visually stunning, passionate, wistful, and thoughtful in equal measure. (Graeme Tuckett)


Cold War is an evocation of love, music, passion and heartbreak set against ice, rubble and fear. It is a lean and perfect gem.

monochrome masterpiece

for everyone who loves french films from the 50's and 60's this one's for you. from the opening shot you are in for a treat. the combination of the sensuality and sadness of the tragic lovers and their country torn apart by war and deprivation is both brutal and beautiful. this is serious film making with each shot lovingly art directed and a soundtrack steeped in emotion. worth seeing more than once.