Starring: Irène Jacob, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Jean-Pierre Lorit
Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Running Time: 99 mins
Three Colors: Red (Trois couleurs: Rouge) is a French film and the final in the Three Colors trilogy. After an unfortunate encounter where a young model runs over an old man’s dog, the woman discovers that the man is a prolific eavesdropper in the local community.
This is the final instalment of Kieslowski’s trilogy, and easily the best. Red is not only an impressive film from a artistic point of view, but also a hugely compelling mystery that, despite moving at a snail’s pace, is absolutely enthralling and completely unpredictable, helped by two excellent central performances and even better directing.
So, as the trilogy follows the French motto: ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’, this final film is all about fraternité, and is as such the least depressing of the three. That’s by no means to say that it’s a happy-go-lucky movie, but it’s not a film that’s going to ever make you feel as upset as some moments in Blue and White did.
Following a model who develops an unlikely relationship with an old man who likes to listen in on people’s phone conversations, Red is a film that subverts everything that you think is coming. It’s been described as an ‘anti-romance’, because we get the development of a relationship that takes the form of a normal romance, but it doesn’t quite play out in that mainstream way.
I thought Blue was at times a little too artsy, and then White was also sometimes not the most impressive filmmaking achievement of all, but Red perfectly strikes the balance between a standard narrative and a beautiful arthouse film.
The story surrounding the two protagonists’ bond is hugely intriguing, and easily the most mysterious and unpredictable of all three films, and so it’s easy to have an entertaining and engrossing time watching Red even if you’re not completely invested in all of Kieslowski’s clever subtle cinematic techniques.
Of course, this being Red, we get a lot of red imagery. It’s not always as prevalent as the blue in Blue and the white in White, but such images as the striking chewing gum advert and the theatre are really beautiful to look at, and also do make those scenes a lot more emotionally passionate, giving this film a little bit more of a romantic and warm feel than what the other two had.
Red is the film all about fraternité, and we see that when the unlikely bond between this innocent young woman and a seemingly nasty old man is formed. And, fortunately, there are some moments where I was really smiling in this film. That was a complete impossibility in Blue, and in White, its dark undertones meant I could never really have a good smile, but Red, the most positive and compelling of the three, manages to tie the series together and bring it to a happy end.
Overall, Three Colours: Red is my personal favourite of the trilogy. It’s a more accessible film owing to its simple narrative, and yet is an expert artistic work by Krzysztof Kieslowski, as well as a hugely intriguing mystery and a happy ‘anti-romantic’ story, and that’s why it gets a 7.8 from me.