8 August 2006 | highkite
The final chapter in a flawless saga
Trilogies are very interesting. Some go out with a bang (Lord of the Rings), some get progressively weaker (The Matrix), some get lost in obscurity (Blade, Back to the Future), but some maintain the genius, that seemingly ever-growing bright light that floats beyond the surface of its flawless exterior. Case and point: "Three Colors Trilogy". This chapter in the trilogy, being the last one, is the most philosophical and thought-provoking. In "Blue" we had a more visually stunning, more character-driven plot, in "White" it was more of a light hearted, narrative-driven story where we listen more to what the characters say than anything. "Red", however is focused on the "what ifs" and "how comes". It questions our own fate and focuses mainly on the past and the future than the present.
This chapter is about a young model who runs over a dog and brings him back to his owner. She soon finds out that the owner of the dog is actually a cynical retired judge who spies on his neighbors' phone calls through advanced spying equipment. All three films in the trilogies have very basic plot lines, but bring a lot more to the story. Consider in "Blue", the story of a woman dealing with the loss of her loved ones. We are constantly shown ideas about the contemporary French society and how that reflects the character's behavior. "Red" is not only about a young woman who finds shelter in an older man's life, but it is also about chance, hope, and fate.
Irene Jacob stars as Valentine Dussaut, who at first finds the old man (Jean-Louis Trintignant), whom we never find the name of, extremely self-centered and disgusting. Though through self reflective analysis, and her voyeuristic intentions, she learns that the judge would be the perfect man for her, if only he was 40 years younger. Irene lives across from another, younger judge, who highly resembles the old man. This is the "what if" that keeps circling in the movie. What if Irene were born 40 years ago? The old man would have been her perfect match. But what if the younger judge is actually her perfect match, since he so closely resembles the older one. Valentine doesn't know this, only we do, and Krzysztof Kieslowski subtly suggests this in almost every frame which Irene is in. We are constantly smacked in the face with his presence, as almost a suggestion of Irene's fate.
I mention that the old man does not have a name for a reason. That reason is because it is very symbolic to the overall theme in the story. We are to compare the old judge to Auguste (Jean-Pierre Lorit), the younger judge, in more than one way. We learn that the old man once had someone he loved but she got away. In another scene, we see Auguste heartbroken as the love of his life gets away with another man. There are constant reminders of whether or not Valentine will ever meet this man. Even though they pass each other without noticing every single day. There is also the motif of the telephone, to Valentine it is a way of keeping sane and updating her life, to Auguste it is what leads to his heartbreak, and to the old man, it is the only thing he has left. These three elements serve to shadow the characters own psychology. It is a sort of statement about what they are and who they are.
All three "Colors" films stand for a certain principle, most common in France. "Blue" stands for Liberty (the personal being), "White" stands for Equality (being accepted by more than one), and "Red" is Fraternity (to socialize, to learn). And although this final chapter is an obvious focus on the Fraternity principle, Kieslowski makes sure he brings in the other two as well, in order to connect all three stories. For example, we see the old man trying to reach out to Valentine and enlighten her with his spy equipment, which is a reflection of the Equality principle. We also see near the end that Valentine is doing some soul searching and that she's more concerned about herself than others (not picking up the phone when Michel calls), a clear example of Liberty. And with all three principles established, Kieslowski nicely connects all of the characters as well, in the final and most heartfelt scene.
"Red" is about where you could have been if you were older or younger. It is about whether or not there is someone completely perfect for everyone, and whether or not one person can change your life. The final chapter in the most awe-inspiring trilogy ever made, this film breaks barriers in both directing and storytelling. It is not only about our modern life, but about where life could and should be in our modern time. And although the movie is more subtle than both "Blue" and "White", it boldly exclaims a statement of love and compassion.
It's hard to imagine that "Red" was Kieslowski's last film, and that he died at such a young age. Nevertheless, the trilogy will always be his masterpiece and we will always remember him for his work that ranks right up with Bergman, Fellini, and Wenders as a truly remarkable director who's never been awarded with an Oscar. Kieslowski, you have been missed!