The plot couldn't be simpler or its attack on capital punishment (and the act of killing in general) more direct - a senseless, violent, almost botched murder is followed by a cold, ... See full summary »
The first part of Kieslowski's trilogy on France's national motto: Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. 'Blue' is the story of Julie who loses her husband, an acclaimed composer and her young daughter in a car accident. The film's theme of liberty is manifested in Julie's attempt to start life anew, free of personal commitments, belongings, grief or love. She intends to numb herself by withdrawing from the world and living completely independently, anonymously and in solitude in the Parisian metropolis. Despite her intentions, people from her former and present life intrude with their own needs. However, the reality created by the people who need and care about her, a surprising discovery and the music around which the film revolves heal Julie and draws her back to the land of the living. Written by
Julie mentions 'altos' as she describes the entrances of various instruments. The same word appears in the English subtitles as she speaks. The sound we hear, though, is not a group of female singers but a body of stringed instruments. In French the word 'alto' refers to a viola; the subtitle is a mistranslation. See more »
Something of a model of directorial focus and control, 'Bleu' seems to be an attempt to answer several related questions: How can a filmmaker express the feelings for someone who won't, or can't, express them herself? Can the director make the viewer understand her, like her, share her feelings? Krzysztof Kieslowski comes very close, finding ingenious, even brilliant ways to get inside the head of his deliberately impenetrable Julie. The frequent 'blackouts,' coupled with the throbbing, somber score (inspired, it seems, at least in part, by Mozart's 'Requiem'), gives us a window into the character's inner life, lets us hear, rather than see, the humanity behind her aloof façade. We understand her--but do we like her? How easy it would be for Julie to become totally unlikable--the way Juliette Binoche plays her, she is blank to the point of coldness, sometimes in ways reminiscent of Catherine Deneuve's Carole in "Repulsion," only with a taut intelligence that character certainly lacks. Somehow, she never does; but, for all the actress's control, the characterization is ultimately Kieslowski's creation, not hers. It's the directorial techniques, and not the acting, that allow us to care about Julie. So, do we ever share her feelings? No, despite all Kieslowski's tricks, we really can't. So often, Americans wrongly write off European films as 'cold,' and that's why it's surprising that this movie, which directly tackles the question of emotional frigidity, and which has such a passionate following among cinephiles, should turn out never to make us feel really anything. Oh, the film has an undeniable emotionalism, a potency, just beneath the surface, yes. But it's never willing to go the extra step and manipulate the viewer in an outright way. It's too respectful of its audience, too intelligent, too careful, for that. And this studied, uncompromising unsentimentality in itself is an achievement Kieslowski should be commended for, but some may find it makes 'Bleu' into a portrait of grief to be admired, rather than loved. 7 out of 10.
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