Today’s film is part one of a trilogy, and in my opinion, it is the best of the series. No faffing about tonight, the film is Trois Couleur: Bleu.
The film is the first part of director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Trois Couleur trilogy (the others being Bialy (white in Polish) and Rouge (red in French)), which is a series of films that seems to be more about manipulating the viewer by means of colour-invoked feelings than by story – not that the story takes a backseat in the proceedings, mind you. Each of the three films deals strongly with the three main theories behind the colours of the French flag (blue, white and red conveying liberty, equality and fraternity, respectively).
This film tells the story of Julie (the ever radiant Juliette Binoche), the wife of a famed composer who was killed in a freak car accident; one that also claimed the life of their daughter. The grief which consumes Julie in her day to day workings following the accident leads her to close herself off from the world so that she can slowly wither and die, in what is called “emotional suicide”, after her own physical attempts at the act are unsuccessful. She does this by closing herself off from the life that she knew prior to the accident. Following the destruction of her late husband’s final work, she discovers that he was carrying on an affair, with the woman he was seeing becoming pregnant with his child. This knowledge allows Juliette to gain closure on that chapter of her life, helping her through the grief caused by the accident and to finally move on from it.
Taken as a single film, Blue would be an above average heartstring puller, were it not from the performance of Ms Binoche, who is as always a superb actress (not to mention radiantly beautiful). All the standard notes in a tale like this are struck throughout the course of the film, with more than a smattering of “French Cool”. And, while it does turn an eye on itself (as it should, given the nature of the story), this is not the best choice with the film ultimately becoming weighed down under its own introspective nature. However, given the task behind this third of the overall series and the series’ overarching want (that of the investigation behind the theoretics and feelings behind the flag colours), I feel that it does ultimately do its job admirably. The journey that Julie must undertake to liberate herself from multiple weights in her life (her past, her current feelings of guilt, betrayal and despair, and ultimately her feelings about the affair) is handled quite well, due in part to the character’s quite humanistic portrayal at the hands of Ms Binoche.
One of the main complaints that I found levelled against this film is that it tries “too hard”to manipulate the viewer into feeling sympathy for Juliette by means of “unnatural”, visceral means (visuals, music cues and the like) rather than letting the story and performance speak for themselves; and, while the imaging IS designed to garner reaction, and that you would not be incorrect in feeling that the majority of the films ‘manipulations’ come from human reaction to the colour palette of not only this, but each of the films in the trilogy. And, while the reds and whites of the other two films in the series gained what I hope was the desired reaction, my feelings following (and somewhat during, too) Blue was to go into a state of introspection, not unlike the one gone through by Julie during the course of the film. The constant wave of blue ‘thrust’ at me during the runtime actually gave me a feeling not unlike one of standing on an Hawai’ian beach and staring out into the vast expanse of the ocean. I actually found it next to impossible not to fall into a sort of trance state while watching the film, which allowed me to meditate on my life at the time of me watching the film for the first time – and this is a feeling that I suspect Kieslowski was going for; a chance to draw the most base reaction from his viewers.