Three Colors: Red

Three Colors: Red ★★★★

Part of my Double Feature Challenge

Following on the heels of White, the finale to director Krzysztof Kieslowski's "Three Colors" trilogy supposedly represents the last part of the French national motto: "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité." Again, we see the title color in scene after scene, from tail lights and stoplights to lipstick, a jacket, tablecloths, automobiles, the blood of an injured dog, a line of cherries on a slot machine....

Irène Jacob is in the lead role this time, as a young Parisian fashion model living in Genève, Switzerland named Valentine Dussault. Her boyfriend Michel is working in England, her younger brother Marc is hooked on drugs. It's a pregnant German Shepherd, Rita, that brings her into contact with its owner, a former judge named Joseph Kern, who has a hobby of "spying" on his neighbors by using an illegal wireless radio set-up to listen in on their private phone conversations.

Among the unsuspecting victims of this eavesdropping is a likely drug dealer (Roland Carey), a married man cheating on his wife with another man, and a "telephone weather girl" called Karin (Frederique Feder), who is romantically involved with one of Valentine's own neighbors, a law student named Auguste Bruner (Jean-Pierre Lorit).

Gone here is the humor from the preceding installment. Instead of liberating disconnection or equalizing revenge, the theme is the human frailty that binds everyone together. Again, it's an interesting twist on the concept of "fraternity" or brotherhood. In fact, several of the characters, including four from "Blue" and "White," quite literally end up "in the same boat" during a crossing of the English Channel toward the end of the film.

I later read that the trilogy can be thought of as the antithesis of the three great themes in theater and cinema, namely tragedy, comedy and romance, in that order. Kieslowski stands the three genres on their heads, in a way. And certainly the folks at Cannes "got it" by nominating this installment for the Palme d'Or, while the Academy Awards put it up for three Oscars -- Best Director, Writing and Cinematography. I agree that it is the strongest of the Colors trio and what a wonderful last production in the Polish filmmaker's storied career.

#88 on Arts & Faith – Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films

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