BrandonHabes’s review published on Letterboxd:
What. A. Trip.
A story about the coexistence and convergence of three souls dramatically forged through space and time, connected and disconnected in ways that never seem to touch, yet always remain intertwined. If that sounds like cosmic mumbo jumbo, it's because you haven't seen the arthouse version of God falling in love, getting heartbroken, wondering what could have been, then transcending the rules to materialize what still can be.
In secular terms: RED is a rich, complex philosophical narrative about the invisible, missed connections between strangers, and the mysterious, almost metaphysical pull of the universe to repair the wounds of the past in order to unite these lonely strangers as destined lovers.
I want to get more granular though: RED is looking at two people who never interact with each other, who are completely oblivious to one another, and the heightened sense that something (or someone!!!) beyond them is orchestrating their place in the universe, bringing them together in the most mysterious and wonderous of ways.
Even more to the point: it's about a young man and a young woman drawn apart, and the intervention of an old judge (Old Judge?) who creates a cosmic sense of déjà vu between them.
The young man and the old judge are almost mirror images of each other, only separated by thirty-five years. Both are judges, both have been betrayed by the women they love, and both cross the English channel in an ill-fated attempt to win back their love. Are these men the same person? Has the old judge found a way to pull back the veil and repair mistakes that were committed by his younger self? If not the same person, is he mystically trying to impart some message to the young lad, who he sees as a reflection of himself? Like Ebenezer Scrooge trying to convince his younger self to chase after Belle, his once-fiance?
The two men's striking similarities form a "fraternity" of kindred spirits, as if bonded by unknown spiritual connections, given they never meet. At the center of their fractured and mysterious lives, a young girl is interwoven into the mix. She is the marrow on which the story hangs. Valentine is the divine feminine in whom the old judge sends on an orchestrated journey to finally meet the young man. It's a fascinating, head-scratching journey punctuated by infinite possibilities, destined chances, and weird coincidences (three of Kieślowski’s favorite themes).
In many ways, RED feels like an existential puzzle about a man wanting to discover the right woman, and, once finding her, sending out a distress call through time and space, body and spirit, to secure her, no matter how intersectionally arduous or impossible the task. This film tickled the hell out of me. With an exquisite production design that would make you think Kieślowski had just watched CRIES AND WHISPERS (1972), this is just beautifully crafted, poetically wonderous, spiritually resonate filmmaking. And oh boy, what a walloping, jaw-dropping finale that was. Yanks the entire trilogy together in such a satisfying way.