Sunday, 28 March 2010
Trois couleurs: Blanc / Three Colours White
The second in the trilogy deals with the subject of equality and presents us with a black comedy. Although the film starts in Paris, most of it is set in Poland.There is both a light-hearted and also darker more sinister quality about "White". In his review of the trilogy, Rober Ebert interprets this film as an anti-comedy, in parallel with Blue being an anti-tragedy and Red being an anti-romance. An interesting and plausible concept. As with Blue, the colour white is used to reinforce concepts of the story-line. The achievement of orgasm, the arrival home in Poland. It is also interesting to note that Julie from Bleu tries to enter the courtroom as the main characters case is being heard. In Blue, we see this from the other side of the door. Elderly people recycling bottles also seems to be a theme - I'll try to pick that up in my review of Red when I get there!
Karol is a Polish hairdresser - an inconspicuous and anonymous looking man who lacks self-esteem. He has however married the beautiful but cold-hearted Dominique who because she is less than satisfied with Karol's performance in bed (what is it with the French?), she divorces him. This leaves him homeless, penniless and hopeless.
He meets Mikolaj - a fellow Pole - on the underground platform as Karol is busking, playing the comb and paper. The pair strike up a conversation. Throughout the film when a light-hearted moment is shown, a dark overtone is also present. For example, when Karol tells Mikolaj of his beautiful wife, he voyeuristically points her silhouette out through an apartment window, only to discover upon phoning her, that she is in bed with another man - she puts the phone to her mouth and moans as loudly as she can to emphasise Karol's failure.
Through extremely comedic circumstances Karol returns to his former home in Poland with his brother. Karol resolves to change his circumstances and rather than cutting hair works for a local wide-boy engaged in scams and sharp deals. By tricking this guy, Karol buys up land that he wants to buy as he knows a developer wants to build there and the price will rocket. Coming close being killed, Karol makes enough money to set up in business and invites Mikolaj to become his partner. Together they operate a very successful import/export business and Karol becomes very wealthy.
Karol then plots to stage his own death by buying a corpse from a Russian trucker - you can buy anything Mikolaj tells him. Having changed his will so that his considerable wealth goes to his ex-wife, he then stages his funeral which of course Dominique attends. Karol watches on (to maintain the voyeurism motif) as Dominique cries at his grave-side.
As Dominique returns to her hotel she gets a shock to find Karol sitting up in bed waiting for her. After he has convinced that he is alive they then make love and Karol takes Dominique to places he's not taken her before. He gets up and leaves before she awakes and leaves to catch a plane to Hong Kong with a new false identity.
Dominique receives a visit from the Polish police who have received an anonymous tip-off (from Mikolaj) that Karol died in suspicious circumstances. Dominique of course protests that Karol is not dead but Mikolaj and Karol's driver both identify 'his' exhumed body and so Dominique is made to look both a liar and a fool.
Karol has made his millions and so proved he is more than an equal for Dominique. He has successfully made love to her in a more than satisfactory way. He plans to live a life of luxury on the other side of the world with a new identity and Dominique is under police suspicion. Game set and match? Not quite. The climax of the film sees Karol visiting the jail where Dominique is being held. Through her cell window, Dominique uses sign language to communicate with Karol. She tells him that she still loves him and is willing to marry him again, if she can get out of prison. Karol begins to cry, realizing that he too, despite achieving 'equality' with his ex-wife, still loves her. He has succeeded - but the victory comes at an immense price for Karol.
This is a masterfully crafted piece of story-telling and whilst not as engaging as Blue, it is well worth the watch. Can't wait to see what Red is about!
I'll give this 7/10.