Discovering filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski: ‘White’

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(1994 – Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski   Cast: Zbigniew Zamachowski, Julie Delpy)

The second film in the Three Colors Trilogy, White, is a comical departure from its sedated predecessor, Blue. Although the film has its fair share of crudeness, absurdity, and broad humor, the film’s themes and character development prevent it from tipping over into sloppiness.

Since White symbolizes the “equality” portion of the French flag, Kieslowski gives us a sadistic tale about second chances that gradually becomes a revenge piece. We start the film in the same courtroom that Juliette Binoche briefly stumbles upon in Blue as a divorce settlement proceeds. Karol is unaware of his wife’s distaste for him and is completely humiliated when she reveals her grounds for wanting divorce is his sexual ineptitude.

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After a series of events that leaves Karol with no money, no home, and no possessions, Karol begins his path from rags to riches. From traveling inside a suitcase, to becoming a guard for a small money operation and going back to cutting hair, Karol is determined to get back on his feet. But not for himself. He’s still haunted by his wife’s disapproval for him. So begins the mastermind scheme to both regain her love and punish her. Their relationship eventually balances despite only mutually loving each other for one scene.

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Although Kieslowski’s visual tone isn’t as refined as Blue’s and there are far less motifs, White is an entertaining story with a wonderful payoff. I really enjoyed the discovery of one’s identity, the path of rebirth funneled through Karol’s friend Mikolaj, and the ambiguous ending as we’re left watching Karol stuck between two choices.

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