THREE COLORS: RED (1994) C widescreen 100m dir: Krzysztof Kieslowski

w/Irene Jacob, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Federique Feder, Jean-Pierre Lorit, Samuel Le Bihan, Marion Stalens, Teco Celio. Bernard Escalon, Jean Schlegel, Elzbieta Jasinska, Paul Vermeulen. Jean-Marie Daunas

From the Turner Classic Movies website,, this article about the film by Jay Carr: "Not red, white and blue. Blue, white and red - the order of the colors in France's Tricolor. Not that it would do to impose too much patterning on the Trois Couleurs trilogy with which Krzysztof Kieslowski (1941-1996) ended a career of making searching films about people making choices or connections - or not. Although they abound in patterns and parallels, Kieslowski's films above all are steeped in mystery, in events and behaviors that can be observed, but neither explained nor perhaps even understood. Thus Blue (1993), starring Juliette Binoche, is steeped in sadness and emotional paralysis as a woman who loses her husband and child in a car crash eventually is faced with an unanticipated way out of her grief -- Liberte.

"White (1994) pushes Egalite into a sardonic comic spotlight as Zbigniew Zamachowski's Polish hairdresser is dumped by his wife in Paris and returns to a far from welcoming Poland to get rich and get even. Red (1994) brilliantly caps the trilogy, affirmatively bringing it full circle with a large-spanned take on Fraternite. It's set in motion when Irene Jacob's fashion model, Valentine, accidentally runs down a dog belonging to Jean-Louis Trintignant's retired judge and returns it to him at his villa after having it treated by a vet. She's surprised to find that, far from expressing relief, the old jurist seems indifferent to the dog, telling her to keep it. Surprise gives way to shock when she finds that the prickly yet intriguing figure, distressed by life's messiness and troubled by decisions he made from the bench, eavesdrops on his neighbors electronically.

"There's a point to it all, signaled by an opening sequence of telephone lines and cables, all streaming talk, tentacles of Babel. The judge's wiretaps aren't salacious, nor does he undertake them to sustain a view of humans as flawed in order to rationalize his own human shortfall over the years. Rather, he seems a sort of custodian to a pileup of mismatched lovers and various kinds of circuitry and linkages that need untangling. Partly because he seems to have put his life on hold, partly because she listens to him with a grave clarity of expression and a simpatico vibe that makes her seem older than her years, they recognize a shared, unspoken complicity. The spark between them isn't sexual. It's one of recognition. Her receptivity melts his crusty self-removal from life.

Sometimes their talk takes on the tone of an Eric Rohmer moral speculation. But there's more spiritual depth, less detachment than in Rohmer. And where Rohmer reaches for lucidity, Kieslowski takes a bigger risk, aspiring and sometimes touching transcendence. Not surprisingly, much of the harsh old judge's distancing from life turns out to be his response to having had love and lost it. Valentine lives at the opposite end of the love spectrum. Love for her comes with distance. She talks on the phone to her long-distance boyfriend in England and almost never sees him. Does some part of her prefer it this way? We aren't sure. Does she speculate on the chain of circumstances that has thrown her together with the judge? No, although Kieslowski's spotlighting of causalities and parallel possibilities reminds us of the oft-cited moment in another Kieslowski film starring Jacob, The Double Life of Veronique (1991), in which one Veronique, on a bus, just misses seeing a doppelganger Veronique walking down a street along the route.

"While the judge grapples with morality and aging, Valentine experiences frustration on the phone when her lover expresses jealousy. Kieslowski always leaves room for playfulness in his films. Here it takes the form of watching a handsome young law student who lives in an apartment across the street from Valentine hang up his phone, making it seem, if we didn't know differently, that he had been speaking to Valentine. In fact, he was having an unsatisfactory exchange with his own girlfriend, who sells weather forecasts. Given the symmetry, you expect the model and the law student to break through their unwitting pattern of never quite running into one another.

"When they do finally meet on the sea of love, it seems both capricious and foreordained, fateful and unpredictable, one of film's sweetest workings out of chaos theory. Never does Red seem controlled - part of its message is that life can't be controlled - yet it always seems inevitable. That's part of what makes it so profoundly satisfying. It's deep and tender, yet airy and full of playfulness. And Kieslowski's way of working the color red into the film - in a bowling ball, a poster, a car, a glass of wine, blood from a wound, a strand of electric cable - never lets us overlook the seraphic twinkle behind his severe view of human destinies. As much about the pain of love as it is about the arbitrariness of love, the brilliant Red encourages us to revel in Jacob's sentience and resilience and appreciate Trintignant's rueful soul-searching that results in him counseling her to do what he could not - 'just be.' It sums up Kieslowski's way of focusing on the concrete and finite to conjure up much larger mysteries and wonders.

"Red was nominated for three Academy Awards - cinematography, direction, and original screenplay. It won none. Kieslowski wrote it with Krzysztof Piesiewicz, a lawyer he met at the time of the Solidarity trials. He described their method as talking through the film in smoke-filled rooms until the script emerged. The Academy did not allow it to compete as the Swiss entry for Best Foreign-Language Film, presumably because it was a multinational production, had a Polish director, and a cast and crew from Switzerland and France. This pedigree did not keep it from being named best foreign film by the National Society of Film Critics and the critics' societies of Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York."