Three Colors: Red

Three Colors: Red ★★★★★

My heart is full. Bursting red at the seams. Cut me open and have me bleed this film, please. I close my eyes and I see only RED. Dream RED. I walk outside. RED. Attempt anything productive, but no dice. It’s all and will always be RED. To put it lightly, Kieslowski could not have ended his career on a single better note. Or dare I say, color.

This is to say, I could have lived in the world Kieslowski assembled here forever. In a sense, I feel like I do. Post-RED, I have unlocked a whole new sense to the universe already around me. An all-new dimension, an extra shade filled in between the lines of what I already live, breath, know. You see, I often think about the strange connections we form with those people outside of our closest realm of connectivity or the degrees of immediate separation. It’s like; What if I decided to talk to this older gentleman sat beside me at the bus stop. Would my life now change forever in his footsteps? How about if I helped that lady struggling to reach the bottle bank across the road. What are the chances she would hold the key to unlocking the door of my future? Is life little more than passively waiting around for random occurrences or should I be making more of an active effort to carve out my own path? Does it even matter what I choose to do in the end? Is it my choice to make?

For Valentine and Joseph, these what-ifs are no longer a matter of mere hypotheticals. For their destinies have at once become interlinked and forever been spun in a complete diversion outside of their own control. We see two people meeting as a by-product of blind chance and changing the course of eithers existence for good. What remains is the small variables that have occurred. The ‘what-if-not’s, if you will. What if she had left the house one second later? What if she had taken a slight detour? What if his dog had not ran out that very day before? What if she had swerved out of the way? What if she had left it be, not given in to her inherent kindness to bring it back and see that everything would be put right? What if she hadn’t seen something in him, and he in her? This last one is a little less easy to clock up to fate. One would like to think that these two souls would always have intertwined once they had found one another. An immediate sense of shared solace, if words can even do it justice. It’s the meeting in the first place that’s so dependent on everything else to fall into order, all the same.

And just as we’re taken on this existential journey of sorts through this hall of broken mirrors, so must our two leads embark on their own excursions. Of the self and as the two pieces to this elusive, ever-lasting puzzle. The aftermath, the change, the mutual healing. The unseen thread that zip-ties it all into place in the cagey illusion of the background meeting foreground. The straightforward but slippery ways they exchange words, with every conversation peeling away another layer and revealing maybe they weren’t as different as they once thought. Could they, in fact, be what each other was needing, missing, running from this entire time? Kieslowski lays out his breadcrumbs of suggestions that all of this may be the case, while ensuring it always remains up in the air. No one ever knows the answer because life rarely has an answer for us.

In this, we can see the ultimate fusion of both of Kieslowski’s preferred styles, as seen most plainly as separate exercises in BLUE’s emotive immersion of sensory invention and WHITE’s morally-charged dilemmas of the mind. RED is, in a way, the perfect meeting point between intuition (the head) and feeling (heart). Dare I say vice versa? And for me, the reason this film hits in a way that most cannot hope or aspire to. After all, all roads lead to RED. Which brings me to one question, burning. Flashing bright in red letters in the forefront of my brainbox. Why Kieslowski? Why Kieslowski? Why Kieslowski? Oh man, where to begin...

If you know anything about me, you’ll see fit to attest that if I love anything about Kieslowski, it’s because he forces me to enter a dialogue with myself on previously unspoken strife's. The internal post-viewing process for a Kieslowski has become something of a ritual, one that I very much thrive in despite the taxing effect that often lingers. If I were to explain it, trying to decipher what one of his works means to me is akin to drowning myself in the ocean of his worlds and being unable to come up for breath until personal revelations are broken. And when the tide has turned, ascending for air and all of a sudden my lungs have been granted new life. Or my neck muscles are now 10x stronger. Or my chest cavity has been removed and replaced with gills. Which is to say, I love him because the process is always worth it, no matter what.

I love him because you always feel for his protagonists. I talk so much about how he makes you feel, but there are so few filmmakers so suited to inserting you right into the emotional states of our characters and have you live their feelings, walk these roads, fight these battles, as if they were your own. But — and here’s a trick — always just from out of arm's reach. It’s so you can just about touch on these feelings, but you can’t exactly grasp them — which forces you to put yourself into the same situations. I love him because he knows how to keep things the right shade of elusive to leave the answer completely up to you, unlocking a unique two-way author-viewer relationship that builds and evolves.

I love him because of his funny obsession with fate, chance, interconnectedness, the fact that neither fate or chance or the answer, how it's ultimately foolish to actually try and reason or bring logic into it, and how the only reasonable explanation is to do the absolute best you can because life will always have it in for you anyway. The fact that this obsession has passed over, manifested to become my own, and will now remain with me for life.

For all I try to pin him down, I love him because his style only lends himself to this elusive magic. I love him because he constructs worlds, forms own language between the physical and the metaphysical, where objects can form a relationship with the less tangible. I love his unrelenting attention to detail, human or otherwise.

I love him because he’s, for lack of a better word, Kieslowski-an. And maybe I’ll never be truly able to comprehend or put into words why we get each other so much. And that that’s okay. Oh, and how I’ll never be done with the journey, the layers will always be there to continue peeling one by one. On myself, the film, the characters, the overarching themes and content. It’s a hall of paved-out mirrors that has you looking at yourself and mean-muggin’ whatever the hell stares back. And guess what? I love that.

I love him because he reflects the real world, the weird relationships that can form between any two people, the beauty to be found within ugliness. I love him because I can’t stop talking about why I love him.

I love him because he somehow left his best movie to last. An ode to life in all of its strange, unexplained coincidences and happy happenstances, it so happens to be. With the resounding re-affirmation that nothing in life is ever truly that, a coincidence. So as I come away with the feeling that Joseph and Valentine’s journeys are far from over, my own journey has only just begun. I’m sad our time together is “over” but I couldn’t be happier for it to have ended like this, right now. I love Kieslowski, and not only do I think this might be his best movie (it is), I can’t shake the feeling that it just might be my favourite. Kieslowski or otherwise.

I guess there’s nothing else left for me to say at this point except to thank Lara for joining me on these last few stops of the journey. Your affirmation that you felt the same way (even in complete silence) meant the world.

Cormac 👑 liked these reviews