CHRIS: Three Colours: Red (Kieslowski, France, Switzerland, Poland, 1994)

Between 1992 and the end of the decade, I was watching about 3 -4 films a week at the cinema. I was a multi-plex whore, giddy at the prospect of comfy seating and eating my own body-weight in nachos. I saw some real dross over this period of time. Anything from a Bruckheimer’s boom-fests to John-Hughes-Clone-Coms. On the flip-side American Independent cinema had a resurgence during this period – it wasn’t all Tarrantino-nifications. During the making of this list, the 1990s will be well represented to reflect this feast I enjoyed. As an alternative to gorging on the out-of-town warehouse experience, Cornerhouse in Manchester provided a much needed side-dish. I saw Kieslowski’s tremendous three colours trilogy back-to-back.

The three episodes famously explore the French ideals of liberty, equality and, in RED, fraternity. This is a film of ideas and, like Greenaway, wears its symbolism on its sleeve. Unlike DROWNING BY NUMBERS and many other films about ideas, there is a real sensitivity to the characters and people who populate the story which makes the whole experience something special. The beautiful Irene Jacob plays Valentine, a version of herself as a model, who runs over a dog that is owned by  a retired judge who she finds sitting reclusively in a room and disinterested in the fate of his injured pet. They gradually start to connect. She is horrified to discover that he is listening to the phone-calls of his neighbours like a twisted version of REAR WINDOW, discovering affairs and crimes behind closed doors. Inter-weaving with this story are the comings and goings between people who surround Valentine, mirroring her relationships and passing by her daily routine.

It is utterly compelling, yet the film seems to set off in a direction where the audience have no clues where they may end up. There is something mystical about how the themes, concepts and scarlet, saturated imagery weave together brilliantly. The moment when the three films are brought together at the end is a subtle thrill that lingers long after the film ends. It is enough intellectual and emotional nourishment to see you through twenty Michael Bay movies.

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