Posts Tagged ‘Polish Cinema’

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“Three Colors: Blue”/”Trois Couleurs: Bleu,” dir. Krzysztof Kieślowski

September 29, 2009
Juliette Binoche in "Blue"

Juliette Binoche in "Blue"

Blue is the first installment of Kieślowski’s Three Colors, where the ideals of the French tricolours are explored in a personal context, and when I first saw it as a teenager, I focused on the conceptual framework and not much else. The picture’s immaculate construction suits it for that sort of analysis – the color motif is very easy to pick out and just as easy to dissect. It was a nice way to approach film for the first time, but it was limiting, reducing it to an academic exercise.

For that reason, Blue seemed more like a picture to admire than something I’d ever relate to. Watching it now, it carries much more heft.

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The film centers around Julie (Juliette Binoche) and how she copes with grief. It’s almost enough to drive her to suicide, but when she rules that out as an option, she copes by running away. The first time I saw Blue, the logic seemed opaque and took some effort to understand, but now it seems very instinctive, not a matter of rationality but impulse.

Openly mourning feels too overwhelming, so she tries leaving behind all the things that fuel her pain – the memories that keep it in place and the marred emotional attachments that feed it. It’s even understandable when she tries destroying a commissioned work that she may have written (IMO, she probably did). It’s cauterization through withdrawal, removing all passions from her life to extinguish any raw sense of feeling.

When she tries living alone as a stranger, it doesn’t seem so odd anymore. Binoche’s performance always conveys torment that’s never far from the surface, and when reminders of Julie’s past life chip away at her protective anonymity, the moments are so agonizing, you almost hope she remains lost and invisible.

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She doesn’t, not for long. Her love for music stirs her too much, and eventually her withdrawal’s snapped by several key moments that set her on the way back…

Plenty of great films have covered similar territory (Last Tango in Paris and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind come to mind), but as much as I liked those films, Blue cuts a little deeper, really understanding the collateral sacrifices made when anyone deals with pain in that manner.

Binoche said her performance was inspired by a friend who had suffered a similar loss, and she kept that a secret until the end of the production. Her performance is not only a remarkable gift to her friend, it’s a moving display of empathy that should leave anyone feeling a little less alone in their toughest moments.

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