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It's 1982: Poland is under martial law, and Solidarity is banned. Ulla, a translator working on Orwell, suddenly loses her husband, Antek, an attorney. She is possessed by her grief, and ... See full summary »
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The American version features a different ending: in the original, Véronique drives to the house where her father is still living and pauses outside to touch a tree. He realizes that she's outside and raises his head from the bench where he's working. The American version features one minute of additional footage showing the father stepping outside the house, calling his daughter, and Véronique running into his arms. Kieslowski shot the additional sequences after the film's premiere at the New York Film Festival in 1991 at the insistence of Harvey Weinstein, who at the time was president of the film's US distributor, Miramax films. See more »
Much of this is an adoration of French actress Iréne Jacob by Director Krzysztof Kieslowski; in a sense it is a homage to her, one of the most beautiful actresses of our time and one of the most talented. If you've never seen her, this is an excellent place to begin. She has an earnest, open quality about her that is innocent and sophisticated at the same time so that everything a man might want in a young woman is realized in her. Part of her power comes from Kieslowski himself who has taught her how she should act to captivate. He has made her like a little girl fully grown, yet uncorrupted, natural, generous, kind, without pretension, unaffected. She is a dream, and she plays the dream so well.
The movie itself is very pretty, but somewhat unaffecting with only the slightest touch of blue (when the puppeteer appears by the curtain, the curtain is blue, and we know he is the one, since she is always red). The music by Zbignew Preisner is beautiful and lifts our spirits, highlighted by the soprano voice of Elzbieta Towarnicka. But the main point is Iréne Jacob, whom the camera seldom leaves. We see her from every angle, in various stages of dress and undress, and she is beautiful from head to toe. And we see her as she is filled with the joy of herself and her talent, with the wonder of discovery and the wonder of life, with desire, and with love.
Obviously this is not a movie for the action/adventure crowd. Everything is subtle and refined with only a gross touch or two (and no gore, thank you) to remind us of the world out there. Véronique accepts the little crudities of life with a generous spirit, the flasher, the two a.m. call, her prospective lover blowing his nose in front of her... She loves her father and old people. She is a teacher of children. She climaxes easily and fully. To some no doubt she is a little too good to be true. And she is, and that is Kieslowski's point: she is a dream. And such a beautiful dream.
An actress playing the character twice in a slightly different way has occurred in at least two other films in the nineties: there was Patricia Arquette in David Lynch's Lost Highway (1997) and Gwyneth Paltrow in Sliding Doors (1998). It's an appealing venture for an actress of course and when the actress is as talented as these three are, for the audience as well.
Note that as Weronika/Véronique is in two worlds, Poland and France, so too has always been Kieslowski himself in his real life. It is interesting how he fuses himself with his star. This film is his way of making love to her.
Kieslowski died in 1996 not long after finishing his celebrated trilogy, Trois Couleurs: Bleu (1993); Rouge (1994) and Bialy (White) (1994). We could use another like him.
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
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