Trois couleurs: Blanc

Very profound, if a bit less than “Bleu” and a bit too grounded.
Movie Review #981


First thing’s first.  “Trois couleurs: Blanc” is well acted by its leading lady, Julie Delpy, and brilliantly scripted by Krzysztof Kieślowski; it carries the first two indications of a great film, and then some.

However—the story feels far more grounded than that of “Bleu”, to the extent that plot begins to take a hierarchical jump above metaphor.  “Blanc” features a distinct revenge plot—not a complex one, and not a particularly violent one, but certainly not a threaded plot such as the one that made “Bleu” so moving.  If there’s anything that “Bleu” had set in stone for the two “Trois couleurs” films that were to follow, it was the importance of metaphor; despite this, “Blanc” feels a bit less of an art film than its predecessor.

“Blanc” lays itself on the foundation of anti-comedy—the rarity of which makes it extremely difficult to judge, but I’ll do my best.  Roughly half of the humor here rejects black comedy, making its title (French for “White”) utterly ironic.  The rest of the humor seems a catch-22: it ingeniously presents anti-humor in the form of exaggerated, goofy, and often slapstick humor, but at the same time, this low form of humor feels almost American.  It seems, thus, to undermine the French Revolutionary ideals that lie at the centerpiece of the film’s encompassing metaphor.  (Specifically, “Blanc” deals with égalité, in accordance to the symbolism of the color white on the French flag.)  Furthermore, while the anti-humor complements the story well for its first hour or so, it gears into reverse during the final third, making for a finale that feels all too silly.

And yet there is one overwhelming factor of art cinema that speaks to the aesthetic success of “Blanc”. In its ability to speak a cinematic language more prominently than its legitimate spoken language (alternately French and Polish), the film is massively appreciable. One does not need subtitles to fully appreciate “White”, and in fact, I urge you not to enable them at all.

Despite the flaws in his second “Trois couleurs” film, Kieślowski is still most certainly a genius. The pervasive use of classical music in “Trois couleurs: Blanc” makes it feel like an opera, as does the film’s visual aura. The color white appears throughout the film, most often carrying a symbolic value that is left to the viewer’s own interpretation. A wedding gown, a dove, a mountain covered in snow, a wife-beater, a winter sky, a set of white blinds, a white telephone, a sheet of paper loaded into a typewriter. You’d suspect that I’m over analyzing, but the camera seems to emphasize many of these objects with a glow. Kieślowski fits this technique into his film neither majestically nor bombastically; rather, he makes it seem part of the natural setting.