By Philip Concannon
, 31 May 2004
When Krzysztof Kieslowski died in 1996, cinema lost one of it's true masters. From his groundbreaking early Polish features, throughout his magnificent 'Dekalog' and up to his extraordinary European works, Kieslowski was simply on another level. 'The Three Colours Trilogy' is the perfect summation of his life's work.
'Blue', 'White' and 'Red' loosely explore the ideas behind the French revolution, but Kieslowski's main interest lies elsewhere. Kieslowski always delighted in examining the minutae of human relationships and finding beauty in the everyday banality of life. And it's here that 'Three Colours' succeeds brilliantly.
'Blue' stars Juliette Binoche as Julie, a composer's wife. When her husband and daughter are killed in a car crash Julie withdraws and tries to start again, as far away from her old life as possible. But finding freedom is not so easy especially when her husband's music is so prominent. Binoche gives the performance of her career in this masterpiece, Kieslowski lets her carry the film and she responds with a display so filled with grief and emotion it's often painful to watch.
'White' is a change of pace, a smart black comedy about Karol(Zbigniew Zamachowski) who's being divorced by Dominique(Julie Delpy) for failing to consumnate their marriage. Karol leaves for Poland and becomes a successful businessman but he can't get Dominique out of his head and plots his revenge. 'White' is a more low-key affair but is no less moving for it. It offers plenty of witty moments on the way to it's powerful climax.
But Kieslowski still has his ace up his sleeve, 'Red' is a perfect climax to the trilogy. Valentin(Irene Jacob) is the model who strikes up an odd relationship with a retired Judge(Jean-Louis Trintignant). Masterful in his development of mood and atmosphere, Kieslowski creates a flawless piece of work that resonates long after the credits roll. The performances are stunning, the cinematography miraculous and the climax, though audacious, is extremely satisfying.
Kieslowski announced his retirement from film-making at the Cannes premiere of 'Red'. Perhaps he had already anticipated his impending health problems and thought it was time to call it a day. Or maybe, after creating one of the most incredible bodies of work in cinema, he felt there was simply nothing more to say.
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