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Three Colors: Red (1994)


A satisfying conclusion to Krzysztof Kieslowski’s spectacular Polish-French-Swiss Three Colors trilogy (with Blue and White), Red is like a French version of The Twilight Zone, following a young model named Valentine (Irène Jacob) through a series of hypnotic meetings with a retired judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant). A mystery unfolds as Valentine discovers the judge’s penchant for eavesdropping on his neighbor’s calls, which leads to all sorts of romantic mystery and tragedy as secrets are unwittingly revealed and lawsuits are filed. Not even the audience becomes fully aware of the intricacies of the picture until its fantastic conclusion.

Red stands as Kieslowski’s most convoluted and difficult work of the series, exploring far more than the idea of ‘fraternity’ suggested by the color and delving deep into symbolism and our notion of ‘coincidence.’ Jacob is wonderfully watchable in her most nuanced role ever, and Trintignant’s crustiness is bizarrely engaging, making you want to dig deeper into his oddly apathetic character who wants ‘nothing’ further from life. Red is confusing but compulsively watchable.

The DVD extras help a lot in clarifying the film and pointing out the little things you probably missed, even after repeat viewings. While I find it hard to listen to Annette Insdorf, who provides a commentary track on all three films, for very long, the comments from Jacob and the ‘cinema lessons’ with Kieslowski himself are very worthwhile. Definitely go for the box set.

Red in black and white.