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The last film in the Three Colors trilogy, RED, is deceptively simple, yet
it rounds out everything that came before in an enlightening way. It
slightly resembles THE DOUBLE LIFE OF VERONIQUE in its theme of
and in its casting of Irene Jacob, who manages to exude a sense of curious
innocence and integrity. She interprets the role of Valentine, a young
model and student living in Geneva and experiencing a kind of emotional
limbo as she awaits her boyfriend's return from England. Through a
trivial twist of fate, she encounters a cynical retired judge (Jean-Louis
Trintignant) who leads a lonely, world weary existence and eavesdrops on
neighbors' telephone conversations. Initially she finds his detached
indifference appalling, and wants to report him, but her compassionate
nature enables her to comprehend the greater plight of the man, one of
leading a fruitless, lovelorn life. They form a touching friendship, and
this sets the stage for another turn of events. Auguste (Jean-Pierre
is young judge who is in many ways a mirror image of Trintignant's
character. He lives near Valentine, but through possible lack of
synchronicity, they never meet. Upheavals in his life are accordingly
similar to the old judge's, but this time, due to the presence of the
Valentine, an old adversity can be turned on its side, bringing
With Red, there is a real sense of culmination unlike any other. Wistful, melancholy, yet life-affirming, the film offers hope in world full of supposed mistaken paths. Tritignant remarked on Kieslowski's talents in augmenting the emotions of the actors through his technique: "I'm very pleased with my work on this film - and I don't think it had a lot to do with me. For example, at the end of the film when my character goes to the window, looks outside, and starts to cry - I couldn't do it, I couldn't summon the tears. I tried to make myself cry but couldn't manage it. Krzysztof called the make-up lady who shot menthol into my eyes. We shot the scene and Krzysztof said 'It's good, next shot.' Recently I saw the finished film. I waited anxiously for this scene. And I cried when I saw myself."
Tritignant's nuanced portrayal is augmented by equally good work from Jacob who bears insight into her role as well: "Something really great about RED are the 'non-encounters' between Auguste and Valentine. They pass each other without ever meeting. They might be great for each other but they never meet. It reminds me of THE DOUBLE LIFE OF VERONIQUE where the two identical Veroniques are face to face but don't see each other. In RED this idea is reflected by the way Valentine can't face up to her life, her love, her sorrows. How can Auguste see her, or she him? How can they both release themselves from this blindness?"
The uplifting aura of this film shines even brighter given the pettiness with which the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences brushed it off. Due to the fact that is a multinational co-production, with a Polish director, mixed Swiss and French cast and crew, Red was not allowed to compete for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar as a film from Switzerland. Indeed, the trilogy itself is without a country as it transcends borders and even culture in its solemn inquiry into human nature and that is a prize in itself.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's almost impossible for me to sit down and write a conscientious
review of THREE COLORS: RED without letting people in on some of the
ideas that Krysztoff Kieszlowski has explored in the previous two
entries to this fascinating trilogy. The more I see them and think of
them, and imagine myself in their world, the more I get its theme: that
we are more linked to each other than we would want to think ourselves,
and all it takes is a little hand of fate to set some events in motion.
In BLUE, Juliette Binoche played a grieving widow whose plan to live
her life without connections to the past had her meet someone
unexpected. In WHITE, an act of cruelty spawns an unlikely friendship
between two men who will, against the odds, conspire to bring the
perpetrator to justice and full circle. And now, in RED, all the
elements of fate and apparent coincidence apply themselves into the
meeting of a young Genevese model and a retired judge who has a habit
of prying into other people's lives.
This young girl is appropriately named: Valentine (a luminous Irene Jacob), who has this radiance about her and even smiles openly while working the runway. Not that she is without some baggage: she has a boyfriend, unseen, who also demands to know what she is doing at all times, she has a brother who troubles her, and she rejects the advances of a photographer who is working on her image for a huge billboard. She strikes a dog while driving and nurses her back to health, but when she takes her to the owner, a retired judge (Jean Louis Trintingnant), he does not want her. "I want nothing," he coldly says, and elements of BLUE suddenly reveal themselves as this arrogant man, who also lives in anonymity and apparent, free-floating freedom, conducts surveillance on unsuspecting people. This male version of Juliette Binoche's character at first shocks Valentine -- she states she can only feel pity for him as she walks away in horror, but a chance event has her back at his place, and here is when he begins revealing who he is, and his great loss.
At the same time Kieszlowski is unfolding a parallel story: the story of a young man, Auguste (Jean Pierre Lorit), about to become a judge and who lives right across the street from Valentine -- but they keep missing each other. Chance is the word. Like Valentine winning the jackpot at the grocery story she visits, elements of chance pepper her life and Auguste's. He has a girlfriend who also supplies people with telephoned reports about the weather. One of them happens to be the old judge. He knows more about her than Auguste does, and he's never met her. Like God, or Prospero, he is slowly creating a storm which will crack the walls of this present state of conformity and bring a new meaning to the expression "We meet again." It's this parallelism between the old and young judge that makes RED so beautiful and transcendent, because time is, in reality, a lot more fluid than we would like to deem it. There are people whom we meet in life that if only we had been born in similar time frames, so many things would be different.
Such is the case with Valentine and the old judge. I believe that there is definitely a strong fraternity of souls tying them together in a tight bond: she is that woman whom he did not meet -- by chance or not -- and is, whether he knows it or not, trying to make amends, hence why he goes to the great risk of revealing his surveillance and becoming the social outcast. But it doesn't end there. One of the many links between the three movies is the character of an old woman walking to a large garbage container. Where Julie did not see her (and would not have helped her anyhow), and Karol fresh from his public humiliation sneers at her thinking, "Someone is worse off than I am," Valentine is the one who helps her. Frailty in need can happen anywhere, and Kieszlowski even applies it here in a minor character.
Now, RED is so much more than a story. Valentine, the old judge, Auguste, even Rita the dog: these aren't characters confined by storytelling. An American version would ruin the idea and commercialize chance encounters and even bring forth a dumbed-down ending. RED is so devoid of a linear, defined plot that anything could happen to any of these people and the possibilities that this story could have veered off in so many directions had one crucial element not taken place at the exact moment and place.
Adding to the concept of characters who mirror each other despite time frames or location is the theme of sexual betrayal. This is also an important and character defining element in all of the three films: in BLUE, Julie's husband had a mistress and she also betrays Olivier when it's become clear she's emotionally dead. In WHITE, Dominique has Karol listen to her moan over the phone (which becomes an important device in RED) as she has sex with a man while the billboard of Brigite Bardot's CONTEMPT looks on. In RED, the old judge's tale of love and betrayal gets re-enacted. And all this time, Valentine's billboard image looms over them like a presage of what is to come at the same time that Rita, the dog Valentine's car struck, bears seven pups, life renewed for the six major players in this complex trilogy obviously filmed with care and love. Why do I say six? You'll have to watch the movie and wonder.
I feel at a loss, so brilliant is this film. Kieslowski is a writer, a philosopher; and while an excellent filmmaker, his greatness lies in his writing; and "Red" is his paradigm. This film is a metafictional study of the artist's judgement in the creation of his fictional world; of how an artist can attempt to remake life -- even his own -- thru his art, even as he cannot escape the knowledge that, no matter how he involves himself in his story, it is still fiction and he is still outside of his remade world, still burdened with its unreality and the reality of the life he has tried to artistically remake. And magically, all of this is not to the smallest degree at the expense of a wonderful story about the mysteries of love and fate and the characters who live out this story, this pre-judged destiny. If I had to choose, I might nominate this the greatest film ever made.
This is the last film of Krzysztof Kieslowski - one of the greatest
directors in the history of cinema. He intended to retire after this film,
so in a way it is his artistic testament. He died a couple of years after
making the film, and though it is said that he intended to return to
directing, Destiny decided that this was indeed his last. And what a
'Rouge' the last film in the three colors French trilogy is actually a very Swiss film. Set in Geneva, one of the two main characters is a Swiss retired judge, and Durenmatt immediately comes to mind. But there is more Switzerland in the cool atmosphere, in the lack of communication of the characters, in the politeness that envelops cruelty of life. Several characters who start with little relationship will come together at the end in a moving and human final, which only a great artist could have staged.
Little else can be said that was not said and written hundred of times. Yes, the film starts slowly, and the fans of the American style of action movies or melodramas will get discouraged first and will get lost as viewers. They deserve it. The film gets quality as it advances, and one of the not so hidden messages is that real life and real humans are more interesting than the Hollywood cartoon and plastic action and characters. Cinema quality is very original, the image being a 'Study in Red', as the title shows. Acting is fabulous, with Irene Jacob and Jean-Louis Trintignant - the later in what will remain probable the best role of his old age.
A great film. Seeing it again probably adds, and I am happy to have it recorded on tape. 9/10 on my personal scale.
One of my favorite films of all time. With beautiful cinematography and
a story that ties the previous Kieslowski films ("Blue" and "White")
together. The film introduces us to Valentine (played by the glowingly
real Irene Jacob), a beautiful and innocent Swiss model and student,
who at first glance seems to be happy until one night she accidentally
runs over a dog. The dog belongs to a retired old Judge who finds
fulfillment in listening to his neighbors telephone calls via
wavelength radio. Valentine is at first disgusted and pities him in his
own self-pity and despair. But as the Judge and Valentine get to know
one another a strange, but fateful bond begins to form. As a subplot, a
handsome young Judge named Auguste (who lives across the street from
Valentine) has experiences that are exactly like those of the Old
Judge! Experiences that will soon lead Auguste into Valentine and into
a reunion with characters from the French flag colors trilogy.
I loved the love story withing a love story plot and the mystery that resolves the characters that eventually fate takes a hand and lead them to each other. Irene Jacob is absolutely lovely in the role of Valentine. Her large brown eyes seem to echo this innocence and curiosity that is both passionate and touching. It's a film that asks us to watch out for the signs that will soon lead us to our destinies. A very intriguing film and a movie lover's dream.
The final and most haunting of Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski's (Oscar-nominated) "Three Colors" Trilogy. "Red" completed a trilogy which paid homage to France and also sent a gift of philosophy and originality to the world cinema. It is once again modern-day France and a beautiful young model (the illuminating Irene Jacob) accidentally runs over a dog in her car. She discovers the dog belongs to an old retired court judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant). Trintignant is an elderly man who is a natural cynic and proves that the world is not what it seems by spying on all those around him in the neighborhood (even going so far as tapping into others' phone conversations). Jacob and Trintignant then go on an emotional journey together to learn that we are all connected in this topsy-turvy world. Thus the film ends up representing the French flag's red which shows the nation's fraternity. In the end the series is wrapped up with the strangest of twists that admittedly feels a little a forced. All three films in the trilogy are neatly tied together and that is really the only problem I had with this otherwise fine motion picture. Kieslowski and long-time co-writer Krzysztof Piesecwicz (Best Original Screenplay Oscar nominees in 1994) put a yellow ribbon on a strong professional partnership that always toed the line of greatness and went over the top here. When the "Three Colors" Trilogy was completed, Kieslowski (who had dominated the French and Polish cinema for nearly 25 years) vowed that he would never work again in movies. Sadly that would become a reality as the famed director would die in 1996, still in his mid-50s. Krzysztof Kieslowski's works are highly deep and very philosophical in all major respects. His trilogy was a fitting conclusion to a wonderful career and "Red" is a crowning achievement to one the finest film-makers who ever lived. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
See Three Colors: Blue and Three Colors: White. They are both wonderful films and will give an added dimension to the finale Three Colors: Red. Red is a fantastic film. It can be enjoyed in a single viewing, and indeed, the climax of the film is very powerful in that first viewing. But, watch it again. Once you understand the use of symbolism and character parallels in this movie, you will see new things with each viewing. With the first viewing you understand that the film is the work of a brilliant mind. With each additional viewing, you find yourself discovering that it is, in fact, a work of genius. Red is meant to symbolize fraternity in the French flag. The story turns the theme of fraternity around to be viewed at angles one would never suspect. The facets of fraternity shared by the different characters is as deep as you care to peer. If you are used to the blatant "symbolism" in most mass films, you may find Red a bit slow. You may find yourself looking at a screen filled with intensity that you do not fathom... and yawning, wonder what all the excitement is about. This is not a mindless, vicarious experience. Everything is not explained to you. You must think as you watch. You must see... not simply look. Wonderful movie... one meant to be enjoyed by a wonderful moviegoer.
The final part of Kieslowski's trilogy based on the colors of the
French flag finds the director at peace with the metaphysical and
transcendent nature of the cinematic image. In Red, imagery is
paramount, as well as the obvious but clever color coding. However,
rather than adhering to empty aesthetic contrivances based on the
'cinema du look', Kieslowski's Red is a multi-layered, densely plotted
meditation on the nature of fate and love. In Red, love and fate are
intertwined but complex notions, dictated as much by the whims of human
beings as the invisible parallel associations that seems to pass us by.
You sense Red is really an allegory, a reenactment of Prospero's
omnipresent gestures in The Tempest, yet it is more than its story
appears. Red demands countless viewings, and in each viewing something
new is discovered that weaves itself into the already immaculately
Although Red stands alone as a masterwork from Kieslowski, it's best viewed as part of the trilogy. Elements of Blue and White are referenced in Red, which knowing viewers will enjoy.
It is not only difficult to comment separately on the three parts of
Kieslowski's trilogy, it seems obvious that the filmmaker wants us to do
just the opposite: view them in order, Blue, White, and Red, and consider
them together as one complete work. It is true they are distinct stories
with distinct themes: liberty, equality, fraternity, and each them is
developed with unique applications of intrigue and artistry. They are each
well worth seeing independently, but I believe they are best seen as one
work. Collectively, I would rate the trilogy as a 9; separately, I place
each in my top ten for the years 1993 and 1994.
The color red is most memorable in the third movie as a backdrop in a billboard ad, the profiled model of which is the central of the movie's three main characters. The other two characters do a double-take of a varying degree of recognition when they first come upon the ad, posted larger than life alongside a busy city intersection. This ad is not a major part of the plot of this movie, yet its image becomes striking and is one of the reasons I have called Red a `mind-bending' film. This is the third of Kieslowski's Three Colors trilogy, based on the Blue-White-Red of the French flag and the three parts of its motto, `Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.' The films stay primarily focused on these themes, keeping with the basic levels of one, two, or three main characters, yet with each film the complexity of plot escalates as the three principles move from fundamentally personal (Liberty, Blue) to relational (Equality, White) to social (Fraternity, Red). Red is my favorite of these films, and I give it a 9. It stands by itself as a great film, but one should see Blue and White first for the fullest effect.
Its my favourite film because there's so much going on that you don't
see at first and so many things that make you wonder "Did Kieslowski
mean that or is it in my head?" For instance - is the judge meant to be
God or some supreme being ?
Also Irene Jacob as in The Double Life Of Veronique is outstanding, there may be a few superficially prettier actresses but none who manage to convey beauty of spirit with physical beauty the way she does.
Tritingnant also is magnificent without really saying much and the things he does say are excellent such as his answer to Valentine . . . "Be".
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