A woman struggles to find a way to live her life after the death of her husband and child.A woman struggles to find a way to live her life after the death of her husband and child.A woman struggles to find a way to live her life after the death of her husband and child.
This is what we have here, questions of memory and meaning. A woman as viewer of a movie taking spontaneous shape around her (played by Binoche as placid observer), that pokes holes in herself and provokes questions; finally overcoming it by being pulled forward by what was left incomplete in it.
A woman who has lost everything as the film begins, every anchor in her life violently removed in one swoop and she's now cast adrift. We have the whole film as her own inner drift through an interminable flow. Kieslowski evokes this with lush dissonance between visual segments, cuts and fades that leave life in suspense. There is scant story, all about living with these fragments. Music erupts around her in sudden intervals; but music that's coming from inside of her and being hallucinated.
It's the world of memory and inner life. Tarkovsky enters this with long, mystifying sweeps of the camera that lift bearings and slip into dreams and ruminations. Kieslowski by contrast caresses their outline, the surface of emotions as they glide over the eyes. It's not difficult like Tarkovsky or Ruiz can be, but pleasant in the way of Kar Wai. It goes down rather easy, you can see it for just the surface shift.
Kieslowski had spent the whole 10 hours of the Dekalog training this ability to dream in advance. It pays off here. Each of the 10 Dekalogs was about a narrative that an earth-shattering revelation comes along and creates a change in viewing. You will see this here obviously. But Dekalog had a contrast; some of it was Kieslowski opening corridors in the imagining with his camera, most was characters stumbling into revelations and articulating feelings. Here I'm happy to note this tension is resolved in favor of the eye; the whole is about visual slippage through cracks in story.
He lets blue lights shine on screen as music soars in crescendos, he gives us closeup shots of eyes; the eye that colors. At other points he introduces memory as images before a viewer: the funeral playing on a screen, images of her husband on TV that when shuffled through reveal a mistress. Most eloquently, images on TV of someone being cast over a void with a bungee chord as her anxiously precarious drift with nowhere to hold. She's fading from even the mind of her mother.
For the end he reserves a tableaux of joined moments from lives as they are suspended briefly in mind. It's all being endlessly relived and combined like the music she works to complete with her composer friend. The music is central here.
Not just as the memory of what was collaboratively lived with her composer husband, the emotion that was absorbed and now erupts again, but also as the sheet where an incomplete piece beckons for the work of continued imagination. The shot of this sheet as scribbled notes end and lines stretch interminably is the abstract heart at the bottom of it.
Had another woman not made a copy of the score, it would have disappeared when she burnt it. Had she come by to pick up the photos of her husband, she might have burnt them with everything else and never found out about the mistress. But it's all this what eventually pulls her out of herself.
- Mar 17, 2016