Thursday, 4 January 2007

Three Colours: Blue (1993) - Krzysztof Kieslowski

The first installment of Kieslowski's Trois Coleurs trilogy opens with a fatal car crash, and from there the drama rarely lets up. Julie (Binoche) surviving the car crash clams up completely. She ignores the advances of others shutting herself away into her own little world, shunning almost evry chance of attention or affection. She sells off all the property she owned with her now-deceased husband. But somewhere, somehow, love starts to creep back into her life - in between going to a peep show and discovering her husband had a mistress she finds something that allows some form of intimacy once again: music. Before he died her husband had been composing a unique piece to be played by 12 European symphonic orchestras simultaneously and it is this work, this pièce de résistance that provides some glimmer of hope in the bleakness of Julie's melancholic existence. Oh, she also gets a cat in to kill a family of mice too.

That's the story, but where to start with this films almost unrivalled brilliance? Slawomir Idziak's virtuosic cinematography - from framing to lens selction, from effects to camera movement provides the solid foundations of the masterpiece. The pinnacle comes perhaps early in the movie when we see one character reflected in their entirety in the pupil of Julie's eye - an astounding shot, but one that is matched throughout the film again and again in other ways (for instance a shot of a sugar cube soaking up coffee). The combination of wide deep-set shots with extreme close-ups in a way that feels perfectly natural for capturing our heroines perception of her world is simply breathtaking.

Then on top of all that aesthetic grandstanding you have Zbigniew Preisner. His Song For The Unification Of Europe surpasses many of the works of Morricone or Rota; the lyrical simplicity combining in intoxicating harmony with each new melodic chorus and crescendo. The weight, the sheer visceral power this aural assault adds to the image really cannot be overstated; even if you never see the film you should... indeed i say must by the soundtrack.

Finally there're the actors. Impassioned performances are given by all with Binoche never looking strained by the pressures on her role selling every tear, every glimmer of despair or hope with utmost honesty and conviction. Benoît Régent also deserves applauding for his turn as the long-suffering lover, rejected throughout by Julie yet he still puts his all into completing the unfinished composition - we believe his love, and that is all one can ask from an actor: to believe their character.

I could go on, the screenplay's deceptively simplicity masking a rare emotional depth the likes of which few European filmmakers could hope to achieve. The editing that produces in the film's climax an unforgettable symphony of sound and vision that will indelibly ingrain itself on your brain once you've seen it. The lighting never once misjudged. The sets and locations, minimal but often aptly mirroring and conveying what is going on inside the characters - it's not expressionist; it's just right.

But suffice to say i am thoroughly in love with this movie.



musicandmovieman said...

Brilliant review my friend, I posted some brief thoughts on Best & Worst.

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