"Three Colors: Blue" is the official beginning to Krzysztof Kieślowski's trilogy of colors. In all honesty, I have purposely not read or seen anything about these movies because I want to keep them fresh and new for when I see them the first time. So going into "Three Colors: Blue" my mind was racing, trying to come up with movies to compare the film to. I could make comparisons to "Solaris", at least by the opening shot; or to "Requiem for Dream" because "Blue" reminds us that we are deep in a surrealist reality...which may seem like a oxymoronically phrased sentence but let me elaborate. In "Requiem for a Dream" there were sequences of disturbing dream-like hallucinations, but to the characters they were perfectly real. The same is true for "Blue", though it lacks the grit and psychedelia found in Aronofsky's film.
The movie, shot in sapphire lighting for much of it, begins with a family traveling in a car. Are they going on vacation? Are they coming from a vacation? Is it routine? None of these questions matter.
Right from the opening shot, you can tell that "Blue" is a gorgeously filmed picture. The cinematography by Slawomir Idziak is just fantastic.
The family seems happy enough, we aren't given enough time to really grasp who they are or what importance they have. As they travel, a heavy fog sets in and the car crashes violently into a tree.
The mother, Julie (Juliette Binoche), wakes up in a hospital and quickly finds out that her husband and her daughter are dead. She takes this news very hard and becomes catatonic. She can't even mourn them properly.
She tries to kill herself, but can't go through with it...it's sometimes cruel to be the survivor.
As we learn from the fragmented conversations we hear while Julie is recovering, her husband was a very famous composer who died while making his most ambitious project. He was going to try to unite Europe in a festivity of music, composing something for the continent and the generation. It was, obviously, a huge story when he died and left the composition incomplete.
Julie, not sure of how to handle being alone for the first time in years, doesn't want anything to do with her husband's work. She tells someone later in the film that she wants to memories.
Perhaps she thinks that if she purges her life of all tokens that belonged to her daughter and husband the grief will go away.
She flees, trying to push her emotions into a box.
We enter an area of her life that seems intimately personal, we see her at her most bare. The way she handles crises is different, the way she looks at the world has changed, and her view towards music has been altered.
Maybe as a side-effect of the crash, she is haunted by loud orchestral music that swells when her memory goes back to her husband. She tries to bury it, but it keeps resurfacing.
Julie becomes afraid.
"Three Colors: Blue" is not necessarily a study in grief, though I think it could be defined as that. Instead, it's a portrait of one woman and the circumstances she unwillingly finds herself in.
It's a story of coping and survival, as corny as that may sound.
Kieślowski pulls you into his world, "Blue" is entirely immersive.
My only qualm with the movie is its incessant need to lengthen scenes. It shows Julie sitting on stairs and looking out windows, Binoche gives a great performance which save the film from utter boredom; but it felt like those scenes were bordering on pointlessness.
The title could refer to the state of its leading lady...this would be mimicked in later films like Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine"; or the title could be some ambiguous color trait that I'm unaware of—that's equally fine with me.
"Three Colors: Blue" is a stunning beginning to a trilogy that I look forward to completing. It's devastating and hypnotic.
Score: 3 and a half stars out of 4