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Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poles apart, 18 May 2012
This review is from: Three Colours: White [DVD] [1994] (DVD)
There is so much to admire in this second film in Kieslowski`s trilogy, not least an uncharacteristic element of near-farce, and a gallery of offbeat types more often to be found in one of Aki Kaurismaki`s mordantly droll films, that its shortcomings may seem less important.
From the word go, White is a film that mixes the emotional with the humorous. The central character played by Zbigniew Zamachowski is a ferrety, pasty-faced Pole who is in the process of being divorced by his beautiful young wife - the suitably ravishing Julie Delpy radiant in an early role - on the grounds that the marriage is unconsummated. Here the problems begin.
I found it hard to believe that a woman so obviously gorgeous, and so apparently self-possessed - though in truth we find out little about her, this being a very `male` film - would look twice at such a seemingly insignificant man. His lack of libido appears, the more the story gets under way, to be connected with his physical displacement (a Pole in Paris) as well as, one guesses, his sense of powerlessness, of not having achieved much on his own terms. His vaunted prowess as a prize-winning hairdresser is just one detail that is never quite explored in this highly entertaining if frustrating film.
His unorthodox, and literally unbelievable, relocation to his snow-laden homeland is the cue for more drollery, as he gradually becomes a hotshot (these scenes also require a hefty suspension of disbelief) and plots a darkly devious revenge on his ex-wife, whose mock-funeral she is duped into attending. What happens in the rest of the film is not only lacking in credibility but left a bad taste in at least one viewer`s mouth.
A big problem I had is that (unlike some of my fellow reviewers) I did not find the main character at all lovable, or even particularly likeable. He starts the film as a self-pitying washout and ends it as a preening cock-of-the-walk - until the final scene, in which we are led to believe the two leads are both in prisons of their own. Well, possibly...
There is a performance which stands out for me, and made me wish the film had been about him rather than our petulant Pole. The fellow countryman named Mikolaj whom the latter meets in Paris, who effects his "removal" back to Poland, and who shares with him two telling scenes underground, is played with doleful restraint by Janusz Gajos (who looks like a more crumpled cross between Engelbert Humperdinck and comedian Dave Allen!) and lends a gravitas to proceedings which the film`s unsteady mix of Mr Bean knockabout and emotional frailty sorely needs.
There are visual echoes of the previous film in the trilogy, Blue, including early on a brief glimpse of Juliette Binoche as her character from that film, in a
"mirror image" of a scene we saw in Blue, one reason these three films are best seen in sequence.
Despite all its arguable faults, its bracing dark humour, the excellent performances, and the director`s mastery of the form, all make the film well worth seeing. I still find aspects of it less than credible, and Delpy is to my mind ill-used, but there is enough in this odd little film to keep one watching.
7 out of 10.
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Location: York UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 72