Down-and-out Polish immigrant Karol Karol is desperate to get out of France. He's obsessed with his French soon-to-be ex-wife (Before Sunrise's Julie Delpy), his French bank account is frozen, and he's fed up with the inequality of it all. Penniless, he convinces a fellow Pole to smuggle him home in a suitcase--which then gets stolen from the airport. The unhappy thieves beat him and dump him in a snowy rock pit. Things can only get better, right? The story evolves into a wickedly funny anti-romance, an inverse Romeo and Juliet. Because it's in two foreign languages, the dialogue can be occasionally hard to follow, but some of the most genuinely funny and touching moments need no verbal explanation. --Grant Balfour
Krzysztof Kieslowski Masterclass
'Making of' documentary
Interview with Julie Delpy
Interview with Marin Karmitz (producer)
Extracts from the original soundtrack composed by Zbigniew Preisner
Dolby Digital 5.1
French with English subtitles
16:9 anamorphic picture
Somewhere in between those deep, thoughtful meditations on the nature of life and love came the second film in the trilogy... White. Maybe because this film - which for all intensive purposes is about gaining equality - is less emotionally rigid than the two films that act as bookends - or perhaps because the issues analysed here are less weighty - White has always been somewhat overlooked and undervalued by the majority of fans and critics. I think this is a bit of a shame really, because for me, the film represents something of a pleasant change of pace for the director, allowing him to create characters that are much more lucid and three-dimensional (away from the anguished, metaphysical ciphers in Red and Blue), as well as offering him the chance to use moments of comedy and kind pathos to undercut the more thoughtful or reflective moments of drama. The characters here are wonderfully rendered, with our central protagonist Karol Karol - the most perfect example of a tragi-comic hero this side of the silent age - trying to find his place in the world after a bitter divorce and an embarrassing court procedure leave him uncertain of who he really is.
The rest of the film charts his journey from nobody, to somebody, right back to nobody (with some devilish twists along the way), whilst also touching on notions of power, personal equality and the all consuming power of love. The relationship between Karol and his wife/ex-wife Dominique is one filled with paradox and contradiction, which to me seems a lot more realistic and believable than some critics at the time would suggest. Both characters profess a love for one another, but then go on to do absolutely vile things to try and subvert the power and equality between themselves. Ultimately, the film comes down to a simple equation... would you destroy yourself and sacrifice everything in the name of true love? Although filled with dark humour and a number of actions and rationalisations that seem to be brimming with bitterness, White is really an inspirational film... one that fills you with a sense of hope and makes you believe that anything is possible.
The ending of the film, like the endings to almost all of Kieslowski's works, is a one that transcends everything that went before and subverts every nuance of the characters and their relationship throughout the film (making you want to go back and experience the whole thing again. As final scenes go, the closing moments of this film are amongst the most sublime and beautifully melancholic depictions of enduring love and hope that I've ever seen, managing to be both touching and emotionally moving, without relying on cloying sentimentality.
The visualisation of the film is stunning with Kieslowski - as he had done with Blue and Red - utilising the colour of the title to give us a film that is both cold and neutral. His depiction of Poland in the later scenes of the film - replete with icy lakes, towering buildings and roads caked in snow - owes more to his defining Decalogue than the autumnal setting of Veronique, with the locations really going against the obvious actions of the film to give us the internal realisation of Karol and Dominique's true feelings (cold and emotionally barren). Kieslowski has just as firm a grip on his actors, with both Zbigniew Zamachowski (no, I can't pronounce it either!) and Julie Delpy giving great, multi-layered performances that manage to convey the loving, internal warmth, hidden beneath the cold, icy exteriors. Equally as impressive is Janusz Gajos as Karol's Polish confidant Mikolaj, who here plays an important part in much of the plot.
Although this is a film rich in visual poetry and dense in symbolism, it is by no means a heavy film. In fact, it's the lightest and most enjoyable of the three, with Kieslowski and his co-writer Krzysztof Piesiewicz crafting a witty and anarchic film filled with moments of dark comedy and interesting drama. I even think it's a better film than the gloomy, though no less critically acclaimed Blue... but that could just be a matter of personal taste. At any rate, White is an enjoyable, interesting and greatly rewarding film that deserves to be seen in it's own right (as opposed to being evaluated alongside Blue and Red)... Get the box set and enjoy all three.
"White" traces the journey of Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski), a hairdresser from Poland. Karol is a simple man who has become despondent over his upcoming divorce in France. Unable to reconcile with his former wife, Dominique (Julie Delpy), Karol returns home curled up in a suitcase and sets into motion a series of events that culminates with him becoming a successful businessman. He uses his newfound wealth and power to reignite Dominique's interest in him, but when she arrives in Poland, Karol exacts his revenge when she unwittingly falls into his trap.
Zamachowski's performance in "White" is a treasure. His Karol is a lovable character whose darkness comes as a bit of a shock when it emerges because of the disarming effect of his more charming side. Yet, this does not mean Karol is sinister. Calling him complicated would be more accurate as the film makes clear that he has mixed feelings over his actions. While he wants to get even with Dominique, he is still deeply in love with her as she continuously fills his thoughts long after they are separated. Such a complicated characterization is a welcome sight amongst the one-dimensional stock figures that inhabit many current films. "White" doesn't have the dramatic impact of "Blue" but is still a worthy continuation of the "Three Colors" trilogy. If anything, it will make you realize that not all people that project a jovial exterior are truly completely jovial inside.
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