Why don't we continue exploring the work of Krzysztof Kieslowski? With 'Three Colors: Blue' down, the next film in the series is 'Three Colors: White.'
Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski) is a Polish immigrant hairdresser who lives in Paris with his wife Dominique (Julie Delpy). Their marriage is coming to an end as she is divorcing him for his impotence. She acquires everything that he owned, so he has very few options.
While poor Karol is sleeping/begging in the subway station, he meets another Polish fellow, Mikolaj (Janusz Gajos) who offers him a shady job. Karol allows Mikolaj to sneak him back to Poland in a large trunk to complete this task. There, he resumes work with his brother at the old family salon.
Our hero isn't going to sit quietly in his home country. Karol begins to save his money and sets in motion a complicated plan for revenge.
White in the French flag is meant to represent equality. Clearly or not, that is the theme of this film. For most of the story, Karol is attempting to become a riches to rags back to riches story which clearly involves statements about how Capitalism affects Poland. It's easier to say this is a story about inequality and homesickness.
This entry is less about haunting visuals and establishing mood than Blue was. It has clever shots of its own, but this is far more conventional. It also relies far less on symbolism though a coin and a bust do figure in here prominently (a reminder of Karol's former life with money and love). One has to admire the directness of the story which makes it almost American in that it is very plot-driven. It has a definite beginning, middle and end with very little fat. Don't expect any staring into a meadow contemplatively for long stretches.
If you think about it, it is weird that this film is a part of a trilogy extolling the virtues of France. First of all, it is mostly set in Poland with very few instances of French being spoken. The main character can't even speak French (which makes living in Paris a poor choice in the first place) but much of it seems to be very critical of French society.
Delpy is the name that some American audiences might recognize. She does a fine job in a smallish role. This is really Zamachowski's film. He is a likeable, if pitiful main character. His tenacity and planning are admirable. The connection between the two is quite thin. We only really get to know them after the divorce, so it is difficult to fathom even an initial connection that would be strong enough to warrant a marriage. Gajos' Mikolaj is the catalyst who really helps to get things moving. He is a constant source of kindness with an ulterior motive.
Special features include: a discussion on Kieslowski's later years, working with the director, a conversation with Julie Delpy, a cinema lesson, some student films, behind the scenes and commentary.
'Three Colors: White' has a reputation for being the low point in the series. That is a harsh assessment because it is reasonably accessible for an art-house film. It isn't overly lofty or obtuse, which kills it for a certain group of critics. It's too much work for the general public but is still a minor success in its own right.
Rated R 87 minutes 1994