No 69 - Trois Couleurs: Rouge (Three Colours: Red)
Director - Krzysztof Kieslowski
Rouge is the last film of Kieslowski's Three Colours trilogy (Blue, White and Red - covering the themes liberté, égalité and fraternité) and even though the films aren't directly related (besides tone and style) I felt it was right to watch them in order, as I had never seen the Three Colours Trilogy before. The trilogy also managed to inject a bit of much needed culture after I shamefully watched the Big Brother launch and Team America.
As the film begins, I noticed an immediate stylistic different to Blue and White. The way that the camera whizzes down wires is far more stylised than the more naturalistic preceding two films - it almost feels Jeunot-esque. However, after that shot we're in far more familiar territory as we follow Valentine (the delightful Irene Jacob) living out her life. She has a boyfriend who doesn't care about her and she is introduced to a Judge who is a bit of a voyeur, listening to phone conversations and particularly relishing the sex calls. Irene struggle with morality, not knowing how to react - but in Irene the judge finds comfort and begins to change his ways.
During this story, we're following Auguste. His relationship with Irene is very similar to the relationship of the three films. Although they pass each other and often appear at the same moment at the same time, they never directly affect each other. His life also seems to draw parallels with that of the Judge: for as we watch the events unfold for Auguste, they correlate with the sad stories the Judge is telling.
I find it strange that this is the film which is viewed as the best; that this film got into the list whereas the other two didn't. For me, I found that Red was the weakest of the three. I found the story far too fragmented, and the characters not strong enough to pull it along. Now, the film is still wonderful, but I preferred the heart-breakingly tragic characters of Blue and the oddly whimsical story of White. It is all part of Kieslowski's bizarre universe - the reoccurring themes throughout the three films are strange, from the obvious (and masterful) decision of making sure the titular colour is prominent throughout the film through to the inclusion of the same elderly woman struggling with the same bottle bank in each film (whilst in Blue and White we watch the old lady struggle, in Red - Fraternity - Valentine assists her with her bottle). We also have the inclusion of Kieslowski's whimsy: the fictional composer Van den Budenmayer - who appears in all of his films.
Whilst the story seems to meander, it finally picks up in the end: A heart to heart between Irene and the Judge adds the final levels of richness and depth to those characters and turns them into real and fascinating people.
The wonderful coincidences in the end which allow the major characters of the three films to finally meet is a marvellous touch which I won't explain for fear of ruining.
So, yes... Red is nice, but in my opinion it isn't the best in the trilogy, and its powerful moments are most powerful when you can refer them back to White and Blue. They're only short films (about ninety minutes each) so do yourself a favour: watch the Three Colours trilogy, rather than just watching Red.