Trzebuchowska delivers a remarkably nuanced performance in her cinematic debut. Although Ida says little and tries to keep her feelings to herself, Trzebuchowska lets the audience into Ida's inner world—the conflict in her eyes when informed she's Jewish, for instance, or the flicker of pride across her face when she is asked to bless a child. But while Trzebuchowska plays the titular character, it's Kulesza who carries the emotional depth of the movie. Wanda puts up an impenetrable front at first, but Kulesza shows that the aunt's commanding nature, her constant pursuit of men, and her alcoholism have all merely been coping mechanisms to bury the pain and guilt she feels over the death of her family. Ida's presence in Wanda's life forces her to confront her loss and the weight of the Holocaust in her personal history, but it also eventually proves to be Wanda's undoing.