Krzysztof Kieslowski's White (part two of his Three Colors trilogy with Blue and Red) features a picture of the lovely Julie Delpy on its cover, lounging in a white outfit and on a white bed. Judging by its cover we'd believe it's a love story. But Kieslowski has something far different in store for us.
Working on the theory of "equality," the story is really about a hapless Polish man named Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski), who finds himself dumped and divorced by French wife Dominique (Delpy) when he is unable to consummate their marriage. Penniless, he can't even afford to return home to Poland, and eventually he enlists the aid of a helpful stranger (Janusz Gajos) to get him back -- by checking him through on a flight in his luggage. And even this goes awry, as the bag is stolen by Russian mobsters.
Eventually things start to turn around for Karol, though, through scheming and luck, and before long he's a business magnate. And before 90 minutes are up, we learn it's all been part of a master plan against Dominque -- not to get her back, but to get his vengeance. And thus, "equality" is achieved.
It's hardly politically correct, but White is Kieslowski's funniest film in the trilogy, thanks largely to the everyday buffoonery of Zamachowski, who (for example) gets shat on by a pigeon before the opening credits are over. (If Kieslowski wasn't Polish himself, I'd think he was making Polish jokes.) Zamachowski has a natural and easygoing quality about him -- a Gerard Depardieu without all the baggage. Delpy, though her role is very small, makes for an appropriately balanced anti-heroine -- her actions are understandable yet you vaguely feel she deserves her comeuppance, too.
The only real problem with White is one of logic. Karol's instant wealth makes minimal sense, and his plot to bring about Dominique's downfall is completely illogical. I don't want to spoil anything, but if it were this easy to frame somebody, the world's jails would be overflowing with the innocent. Still, it's such a good time (and its message is worth hearing) that it's hard not to have fun.
The new DVD, like Blue, is chock full of extras, including numerous interviews and commentaries, behind-the-scenes footage (including an interesting look at the editing of the opening sequence), more Kieslowski student films, and tons more.
Aka Trzy kolory: Bialy .