Three Colors: Blue (1993), White (1994), and Red (1994)

Director Krzyszt Kieslowski decided to make three movies, one for each of the three colors of the French flag—blue, white, and red—and for each of the three basic ideas of France’s national motto—liberty, equality, and fraternity.  To drive the point home, he titled them Three Colors: Blue, Three Colors: White, and Three Colors: Red.  If the three movies were any good, this organizing scheme would be fine, but as it is, the whole thing just seems like a gimmick.

The first one is Blue. It’s about this woman Julie (Juliette Binoche), who turns her back on the world after a tragic accident. And that would be fine, except the camera keeps following her around, forcing us to be with her. I don’t begrudge anyone a little time to be depressed and grieve, but let her do it alone. Why do we have to be there? Of course, the movie wants us to think that all the strange things she does are evidence of a profound, suffering soul, thereby justifying all the screen time she gets. But I kept wishing the camera would follow someone else around for a while.

The next movie is White.  In that one there is this guy Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski), who is a real loser. It is not just that he is impotent, for which reason his wife, Dominique (Julie Delpy), divorces him. He acts like a worm. Because he keeps stalking Dominique, she finally has to drive him out of France.

Back in Poland, he inexplicably changes from being a loser into an entrepreneur, and becomes quite rich. But he is still small in spirit, because he still holds a grudge against his ex-wife. He leaves everything to her in his will, fakes his death, and fakes evidence to make it look as though she murdered him for the inheritance, resulting in her being sent to prison. But just before the police come to arrest her, he shows up in her bed, and they have sex. It must have been pretty good sex too, because when he goes to the prison and looks at her with binoculars behind the bars, she signals that she still loves him and wishes they were still married. And then he cries.

And people wonder why so many Americans hate foreign films.

Anyway, Red, the third film of this trilogy, is the best of the lot, but that is not saying much. Blue was irritating and White was dumb, but Red was sort of pleasant to watch. There seems to be some business about parallel lives, fate, and precognition, but to what end I do not know. Some people like the idea that everything that happens is destined to happen, and so I guess a movie like this will make them feel good.

Fortunately, there are only three colors in the French flag.

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