When I watched Three Colours: Blue, I have to admit that I wasn’t blown away. Maybe it went over my head, maybe its reputation made my expectations too high, maybe it just wasn’t my kind of movie. Whatever the reasons, it didn’t leave me very excited about watching the other two films in the trilogy. But I persevered and I’m glad. Because I’m totally onboard with the series now after watching Three Colours: White.
Like its predecessor, Three Colours: White starts with the ending of a relationship. But where Blue’s relationship ender was the death of a husband and child, White starts much more broadly. A French wife, Julie Delpy’s Dominique, is seeking divorce from her Polish husband, Zbignew Zamachowski’s Karol, in a French court. Siting their lack of consummation through Karol’s impotency, his embarrassment is only intensified as each accusation has to be translated from French to Polish, doubling up the shame.
The divorce leaves Karol with nothing but a suitcase. Broke and busking on a train platform, trying to figure out how to get home, he meets Mikolaj (Janusz Gajos), a fellow Pole who offers him the chance to make enough money to movie home. All Karoi has to do is kill a man, a man who wants to be dead, but who can’t bring himself to commit suicide.
Karol makes it home to Poland, through a series of events, he builds a new life for himself, meets Mikolaj again and even makes a small fortune through some not so legitimate business dealings. Eventually, he uses his new money and power to chase the ultimate revenge.
White is a much bigger movie than Blue. The story is pulpier, even resorting to action and melodrama. It’s universe is bigger, travelling from France to Poland and back again more than once. The central characters all get a lot more to do this time around. While Blue’s Juliette Binoche basically spent the entire movie being tortured, distant and aloof, Delpy, Zamachowski and Gajos all get to explore a much wider range. And all three of them are great.
Built around an unfinished musical masterpiece, Blue had obvious reason to go big and lavish with its score. White is the opposite. And the few, simple pieces of score we do get are very close to the main trumpet theme from The Godfather movies.
The ending of Three Colours: White is one of the biggest gut punches a movie has given me for a long time. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that the simple look of pure self gratification that closes out the movie makes for one of the most subversively evil characters I’ve ever seen.
Thematically, I guess the connection with Three Colours: White and the previous Three Colours: Blue, comes down to how a person’s perception of their entire life is based on a connection to someone else, and how they have to rebuild that life and rethink their perceptions once that other person is gone. Being as popular as this trilogy is, I’m sure much smarter people than me have put in much more time to find much more compelling connections and themes, but even with my simplistic understanding of it, I’m keen to see where the whole piece is headed with Three Colours: Red.