Three Colors: White (1994) (R)

The middle film of Krzysztof Kieślowski's trilogy of colors, "Three Colors: White" is much more humorous and plot driven than the first film of the series. 
With apparently no connection the second film follows a different protagonist through an equally horrible situation as the first movie did. "Blue" was about a woman whose husband and daughter died in a car accident and how she came to grips with her loss—"White" is about a man whose wife is divorcing him because he didn't give her enough intimate attention, thus loosing her love. She threatens him with arson charges and forces him to leave France and go back to his native country of Poland.
Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski) is a hairdresser with an aptitude for blandness. Variety is not the spice of his life, he chooses a routine and likes to stick with that. Well, that is, until his wife kicks him out on the street and freezes all his bank accounts.
Now he's left along in the middle of Paris and soon the police will be coming after him. He meanders from street to street and finds himself at the train station...waiting for a train (yes, it is a Nolan reference). 
At the station, living out of his suitcase and playing his comb like a musical instrument, he meets a fellow Polish man named Mikołaj (Janusz Gajos). Mikołaj offers him money in return for a job...he'll have to kill a man; but it's okay since the man already wants to die.
Karol is appalled at the idea and rejects the man's offer, but decides to ask the man to sneak him back into Poland. He hides in his suitcase and makes the uncomfortable journey home away from the dreadful city of Paris and his terrible wife, Dominique (Julie Delpy).
There is one problem, however, he still loves his ex-wife. 
In Poland, Karol becomes entangled with mobsters and he decides to out think the thinkers, a resolve which has decidedly mixed results.
There is no clear connection from the first of Kieślowski's films to this one; but there are some similarities that jump out. Besides a surprise cameo that appears in the first few minutes and ties the movies together logically, there are moments that Karol has that Julie had as well. He smiles at the frivolity of an elderly do-gooder recycling their glass bottles...too old and hunched over to place the bottle into the receptacle. He looks at the world differently than Julie did; seeing humor in this gesture instead of hope (or some other enigmatic could argue for a lot of them).
There is a certain amount of dark humor included in "White" that was most definitely lacking in "Blue". 
We see a great evolution in Karol and Zbigniew Zamachowski does a great job acting this...he never once lets us know that he is acting, we truly believe in Karol as a person. 
"White" is a tale of the underdog, it is also a revenge story of sorts. We are left at an "Inception"-type ending, where we decide what's going to happen. It's an amazing last scene because although Karol has changed so much, we see that he is truly the same person that he was...he still has the same longings and needs.
"White" isn't a stifling as "Blue" is and it certainly doesn't draw itself out like its predecessor did. There is an element missing here that kept me from completely engaging with the film—I didn't quite empathize with the main character until a little bit into the film...which is fine, but not ideal. Maybe it's just me.
Either way, "White" looks just as fantastic as "Blue" does—Edward Klosinski's cinematography is similar to Slawomir Idziak's; but the tone of the film feels different. Kieślowski probably switched directors of photography on purpose.
"White" is another great addition to the "Three Colors" trilogy...leaving me anxious to see the last film.

Score: 3 and a half stars out of 4

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