Krzysztof Kieslowski

Krzysztof Kieslowski

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A Short Film About Love Review


Good
This companion Kieslowski's A Short Film About Killing is typically elliptical, as most of the great Polish director's films to be. As the title promises, it's a small film, fitting more closely with The Decalogue than the big screen. The story involves a voyeur (Olaf Lubaszenko) who lusts after the sexpot across the street (Grazyna Szapolowska). Eventually he arranges to meet her, she overcomes her disgust to love him in return, but he ends up attempting suicide. The story comes full circle as the woman spies on the recovering voyeur.

It's an interesting fable though for a film about "love" it feels awfully cold, not to mention lacking a certain amount of realism. Still, solid performances and a good script redeem it considerably.

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The Double Life of Veronique Review


Excellent
Before he made hism Three Colors trilogy (Blue, White, and Red), Krzysztof Kieslowski made what might have been the crowning achievement of a distinguished career. I say "might" because The Double Life of Veronique is a difficult film that, even after several viewings, doesn't give up its secrets easily. It is also one of those rare films that, when you get down to it, isn't really about anything at all. The film's meaning is held in what you, the viewer, decide to read into it.

That's fitting, because Veronique is a film all about subjectivity. The setup is simple. What follows is not. Here's the idea that Kieslowski sat down with when deciding to make the film: Two women look identical and have similar lives, despite living in different countries. They are both even named Veronique, almost. Veronique (Irène Jacob) is a French woman who aspires to be a concert hall vocalist. Weronika (also Jacob, of course) is a Polish woman, a singer as well. They are born on the same day and even share a medical condition, which leads Veronique to drop dead on the eve of her big break.

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A Short Film About Killing Review


Good
Krzysztof Kieslowski's difficult film is exactly what the title purports: A disillusioned youth wanders the streets for a half hour, terrorizing people and vandalizing cars at random, before deciding to kill a cab driver in a brutal 10-minute sequence... all for no apparent reason. He's quickly caught and sentenced to death, and his attorney vainly tries to stop the exocution. The second killing is chronicled just as brutally and vividly. It's classic Kieslowski -- black and white on the surface but far harder to put together in the end. This 80-minute flick is meant to invite discussion on capital punishment and whether it fits the crime, but in making his protagonist so worthless, Kieslowski practically answers the question the wrong way: I can't think of any reason the world would be better off with our killer in it. Good riddance.

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Heaven Review


Excellent
Before his death in 1996, Krzysztof Kieslowski left behind a final work, Heaven, as part of a trilogy that he intended to see directed by a series of three different filmmakers. While he didn't live to see his dream become a reality, the production company that held the rights to Heaven tried to make the film in the manner Kieslowski intended. Those familiar with Kieslowski's work will probably agree that the he most likely would have been proud of Heaven's result.

How a Polish script, a German director, an Australian lead actress, and an Italian-American actor managed to concoct such an authentic vision of the deceased French filmmaker is beyond comprehension, but they accomplished it nonetheless. Heaven looks, feels, and sounds like a Kieslowski film with its limited dialogue and slow, deliberate pacing, but it's actually the product of Tom Tykwer, who directed the acclaimed films Run Lola Run, and The Princess and the Warrior. Tykwer gives credit to Kieslowski's writing, but the cinematography, the scenes, the sound design, and the performances are a result of his decisions.

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Blue (Trois Couleurs: Bleu) Review


Excellent
The only thing I remembered about seeing Krzysztof Kieslowski's Blue -- the first part of his Three Colors trilogy (see also White, Red) -- is that it put me to sleep right at the 40-minute mark.

Watched again with a more mature and critical eye nearly 10 years later I didn't nod off, but impatient types will find the film slow and difficult, and to some extent, that's what Kieslowski wanted. Based on the colors and ideals of the French flag, Blue focuses on the idea of "liberty," though not in any political sense. Rather, the film tells a deeply personal story of loss and salvation, Juliette Binoche owning the lead as a woman whose husband and daughter are suddenly killed in a car wreck. Binoche's Julie then tries to piece her life back together -- not by visiting the past, but by creating a new future for herself, free from the trappings of yesterday. But of course, it's the past that refuses to let go, as old acquintances track her down and untold truths begin to surface.

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The Decalogue Review


Excellent
Survive 10 hours of The Decalogue and you may find yourself a changed person.

Polish master Krzysztof Kieslowski found inspiration in the 10 Commandments, and for Polish TV he made a series of one-hour films exploring each one. Naturally, this is some heavy stuff. In some cases, it's really heavy stuff.

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White (Trois couleurs: Blanc) Review


Excellent
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.

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Red (Trois couleurs: Rouge) Review


Extraordinary
A satisfying conclusion to Krzysztof Kieslowski's spectacular Polish-French-Swiss Three Colors trilogy (with Blue and White), Red is like a French version of The Twilight Zone, following a young model named Valentine (Irène Jacob) through a series of hypnotic meetings with a retired judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant). A mystery unfolds as Valentine discovers the judge's penchant for eavesdropping on his neighbor's calls, which leads to all sorts of romantic mystery and tragedy as secrets are unwittingly revealed and lawsuits are filed. Not even the audience becomes fully aware of the intricacies of the picture until its fantastic conclusion.

Red stands as Kieslowski's most convoluted and difficult work of the series, exploring far more than the idea of "fraternity" suggested by the color and delving deep into symbolism and our notion of "coincidence." Jacob is wonderfully watchable in her most nuanced role ever, and Trintignant's crustiness is bizarrely engaging, making you want to dig deeper into his oddly apathetic character who wants "nothing" further from life. Red is confusing but compulsively watchable.

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Krzysztof Kieslowski

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