[Films Review] Three Colors: Blue, White and Red (1993, 1994)

Three Colors Blue poster

English Title: Three Colors: Blue
Original Title: Trois couleurs: Bleu
Year: 1993
Country: France, Poland, Switzerland
Language: French, Romanian, Polish
Genre: Drama, Music, Mystery
Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Writers: Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krzysztof Piesiewicz
Music: Zbigniew Preisner
Cinematography: Slawomir Idziak
Juliette Binoche
Benoît Régent
Charlotte Véry
Florence Pernel
Emmanuelle Riva
Hélène Vincent
Philippe Volter
Yann Trégouët
Hugues Quester
Rating: 8.2/10

Three Colors White poster.jpg

English Title: Three Colors: White
Original Title: Trois couleurs: Blanc
Year: 1994
Country: Poland, Switzerland, France
Language: Polish, French
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Writers: Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krzysztof Piesiewicz
Music: Zbigniew Preisner
Cinematography: Edward Klosinski
Zbigniew Zamachowski
Julie Delpy
Janusz Gajos
Jerzy Stuhr
Cezary Pazura
Jerzy Trela
Grzegorz Warchol
Philippe Morier-Genoud
Cezary Harasimowicz
Jerzy Nowak
Teresa Budzisz-Krzyzanowska
Rating: 7.7/10

Three Colors Red poster.jpg

English Title: Three Colors: Red
Original Title: Trois couleurs: Rouge
Year: 1994
Country: Switzerland, France, Poland
Language: French
Genre: Drama, Mystery
Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Writers: Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krzysztof Piesiewicz
Music: Zbigniew Preisner
Cinematography: Piotr Sobocinski
Irène Jacob
Jean-Louis Trintignant
Jean-Pierre Lorit
Frédérique Feder
Samuel Le Bihan
Roland Carey
Rating: 8.4/10

Three Colors Blue 1993.jpg

THREE COLORS trilogy, Kieslowski’s cut-and-dried tome and swan song, ostensibly represents the tricolor of French flag, each of which in turn stands for liberty, equality and fraternity, and can all be plausibly ascribed to the three individual story, BLUE, delving into a young wife/mother’s emotional liberty after unexpected bereavement, WHITE, a getting even comedy where impotence can be substantially cured by one’s wealth status, and RED, bringing closer two disparate personages, connected by a slow-burning mutual understanding and admiration in lieu of any libidinous attractions.

Three pictures sequentially debuted in Venice ’93, Berlin ’94 and Cannes ’94, a rare trifecta and BLUE is a Golden Lion recipient and Binoche takes the BEST ACTRESS laurels, WHITE wins Silver Bear for BEST DIRECTOR and RED, although didn’t obtain Canne’s highest honor, becomes a surprising thrice Oscar-nominee, with Kieslowski secures one for his astounding direction.

Kieslowski potentially leverages the uni-linear color scheme in each films, BLUE is the most astonishing one, following the jagged path of Parisienne Julie (Binoche) solitarily grappling with her own grief after the death of her world-famous composer husband and their young daughter in a roadside accident, her blunt severance from her past is consecutively punctuated by incidents dragging her back to the memory, until an inadvertent discovery of her husband’s two-timing secret casts a different light on Julie’s perspective, and in a way, it guides her ambling out of her own prison. Shrouded in the cerulean hue, Binoche captures a firm defiance and enraptures audience with her soul-baring affect that runs the gamut from stone-cold rebuff to hear-rending desolation. Also Kieslowski’s unconventional maneuver of fade-outs can fairly bowl over a spectator who is endowed with aural acuity, music unsolicitedly swells whenever Julie’s mind is interrupted.

Three Colors White 1994.jpg

WHITE, unfortunately, this largely Poland-set tall-tale is this reviewer’s least liked one, solely because Kieslowski and his co-writer Krzysztof Piesiewicz’s “wealth-seeking, phallocentric revenge” leans dangerously towards misogyny and mean-spiritedness, but Zbigniew Zamachowski gives a vibrant performance as the humiliated divorcé Karol Karol, a Polish immigrant jilted by his nubile French wife Dominque Vidal (a vanishingly mesmeric Julie Delpy tortures audience for her under-reported absence on the screen) for impotence, who will eventually regain his manhood and flourish in his fatherland (in speculative real estate business other than his coiffeur vocation), and serve a scorned man’s cold if malice-lite requital to his ex-wife, whom he still loves. Polish acting dignitary Janusz Gajos also shows off his standoffish glint of amusement as Karol’s friend-in-need Mikolaj, whose taedium vitae can only be purged out of his system by a brush with death himself.

Lastly, RED, the cherry-pick among the trinity for this reviewer’s money, is set in Genova, a part-time model Valentine Dussault (Jacob) comes across with a cynical retired judge Joseph Kern (Trintignant), whose eavesdropping habit of his neighbors’ telephone lines triggers a debate about privacy which leads to a hearty friendship that tells more about human’s similarities than differences, granted, RED enthuses us with a much more numinous and fickle tonality (beautifully eases us to suspend our disbelief in the sinking ship finale), a cerebral lucidity about one’s presence of mind is also borne out of the exchange between an upfront yet perspicacious Trintignant and a humble, fragile, yet immaculately humane Jacob. The subplot around a new judge-to-be Auguste Bruner (Lorit), looks haphazard at first, but eventually alludes to a possibility of reincarnation that is implicitly vindicated by the ending, Piesiewicz’s Midas touch in terms of his vision and philosophy, which doesn’t register much in BLUE or WHITE.

Three Colors Red 1994.jpg

En mass, the trilogy shares a few interlocking happenstances and most obviously, by a doddering elderly straining to discard an empty bottle into the garbage container, finally gets a helping hand from Valentine in RED, which can be fittingly adumbrated as a coda to Kieslowski’s own life and career, who succumbed to a heart attack in 1996, aged only 54. A good deed fulfilled, a life of robust film-making culminates with the gentlest moment, THREE COLORS trilogy has been here to stay for keeps.

referential entry: Kieslowski’s BLIND CHANCE (1987, 6.9/10).

Oscar 1994 - Three Colors Red and White.jpg

Oscar 1993 - Three Colors Blue.jpg

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