Completed shortly before his untimely death at 54, Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s (Dekalog, The Double Life Of Veronique) last hurrah was this masterful, enigmatic trilogy, named for the three colours – Blue, White and Red – of the flag of his adopted country, France.
He also reckoned they respectively probed the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity – though just how those ideas fit the action isn’t so simple to suss out. Blue comes first and hits hardest, with Juliette Binoche giving a deeply felt turn as a woman who loses her husband and daughter in a road accident.
In response she tries to cut herself off completely from her previous life; yet as Kieslowski shows – with sensitivity rather than sentiment – it’s not so easy to sever the ties that bind. Kieslowski gear-shifts to comedy for White, the tale of a Polish hairdresser (Zbigniew Zamachowski) living in Paris who plots revenge after being humiliatingly dumped by his French wife (Julie Delpy).
Despite the sardonic flavour, there’s still the glow of Kieslowski’s bruised humanism. A rich, sophisticated study of communication in all its myriad forms, Red sees a strange intimacy grow between a young model (Irène Jacob) and an embittered, elderly judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who spies on his neighbours.
Though the plots of the three films differ widely, incidents and characters link them together (closer Red offers several pay-offs, not least the bold, teasing, climactic reveal). As for their overall theme, there’s been endless debate. Fate? Chance? Perception? Community? All these and more? Quizzical to the last, Kieslowski leaves us to decide.