Monday, July 23, 2012

Trois couleurs: Bleu (Three Colors: Blue) (1993)

Seen: On our projector set-up, streamed from Miles's computer.

When Julie (Juliette Binoche) loses her husband and young daughter in a vicious car crash, everything changes. Her husband was a famous French composer whose commissioned symphony for a national celebration is left unfinished. Julie sells most of her assets and leaves her large, empty chateau for a small apartment in Paris where she hopes to cut herself off from all reminders of her former life. She lives quietly but is consistently haunted by her past through strains of her late husband's music, and his former assistant who wants to find her.

I had never seen any of Kieslowski's much-lauded Three Colors trilogy, and honestly knew very little about it except that it's something I should see, so it seemed finally time to give the first film a go. With a slow, contemplative pace and a mesmerizing performance from Binoche, Blue shows more than it tells. The majority of the film is a study of one woman's pain, as she silently grieves the loss of her family and gradually comes to understand the freedom (however unwanted) it's given her. There is a lot of empty space, but the gorgeous camerawork and palpable feeling of Binoche keep the sparse narrative afloat through the middle stretch. As Julie's past forces its way back into her life, the story takes on elements of mystery and romance, and the action is propelled forward. It's an interesting blend of plot points and genre tropes in a film that maintains a focus on one character's mourning.

I liked this film but found it a little lacking as a whole. The mix of minimalist character study and sudden mystery/grungy late additions to the story was a bit jarring, though the tone remained understated. Binoche is marvelous and the visuals are breathtaking, and the theme of emotional liberty is handled deftly, I just could have done with a more focused plot.

4/5

Pair This Movie With: Well I suppose the next film in the trilogy makes the most sense, though I know they're not narratively linked. Otherwise maybe something lighter to lift the sadness this film emits, one of your favorite feel-good movies.

1 comment:

  1. I own the entire trilogy on Blu-ray (a Christmas gift) but have yet to watch them.

    Most call Blue in particular masterful -- nice to read someone with a unique opinion.

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