What a gorgeous film. Wow. Every scene felt like a piece of art. Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colours: Blue is the first of the trilogy, which also comprises of White and Red, the second and third respectively. Set in France, the lead Julie de Courcy (Juliette Binoche) loses her husband Patrice and daughter Anna in a car accident minutes in. The film is thus an exploration of grief and Julie’s attempts to come to terms with her loss. We sit with Julie to see her inner turmoil and how her grief translates to all her actions and comes to define her. Rather than being plot heavy, the film slows down for us to appreciate the nuances of Juliette Binoche’s performance and the melancholy her character is experiencing.
Blue shows how all-consuming it is to live after such a traumatic event. The film is subtle in how it shows the harrowing pain Julie is experiencing, as there are no loud outbursts; but rather a quiet suffering. This ties in with my favourite aspect of the film, which is that things are shown not told. Certain things aren’t given context and the audience is not spoon-fed the story. Instead it’s these glimpses and hints we’re given that build the story and situate Julie.
Music is integral to the fabric of the film, as Julie’s husband Patrice was a known composer. There’s lingering notes that play on her mind, which sometimes burst forth dramatically throwing her (and us) off. This striking melody dominates and disturbs Julie’s reverie. What she’s hearing non-diegetically are pieces from her husband’s last project on the unification of Europe. The media interest in her husband’s final work is invasive to Julie’s privacy and there’s a disconnect between the media’s fascination and Julie’s attempts to remove herself from her past.
In steadfast fashion, Julie tries to cut herself off from all her ties; she sells her possessions and moves without telling anyone. She does ‘nothing’ and just waits for time to pass. But despite her best efforts to avoid human connection, a few manage to slip through her barriers, like Lucille (Charlotte Véry) from her new apartment building. Despite all she’s been through, she’s still dependable and caring. But, this kindness is not to be mistaken for weakness. There are a few instances where her strong personality shines through and it’s clear she’s not going to be pushed around. Shown through her sparing and curt dialogue. She’s firm with the trying journalist, in control with her entanglement with Olivier Benôit (Benoît Régent) and straight up refuses to sign the papers a neighbour brings around to try and get the exotic dancer Lucille evicted from the building.
As already mentioned, the visuals are stunning and you can easily lose yourself in these scenes. Throughout there are moments in which blue shines on Julie’s face and it feels like she’s remembering Anna and the ‘blue room’ that we assume belonged to her. With so little these moments are able to evoke so much. We don’t see flashbacks of what she’s remembering, and we don’t need to. The blue light that shines on her symbolises her buried sense of self and longing. She can’t help but revel in these lost moments.
Fantastic transitions are used in the film to show the passage of time. There’s one in particular that stood out to me, which is a close-up of a coffee cup, saucer and spoon, and you can just see the lighting change as the sun shifts. It’s these small ways of showing things that I found so effective. The scenes stretch out, making it feel like a longer experience than the 1 hour 40 minute runtime, but not in a bad way. It’s pensive and scenes carry weight.
Blue is a meditative, somber film with an exquisite aesthetic. It’s thoughtful and full of meaning. The fact that we don’t get a sense of the person Julie was before the accident means that we’re presented with the aftermath and emotional collapse of this character without knowing anything about her. It’s an emotive piece and a delicate portrait of a broken woman, which Juliette Binoche is able to portray so well and with such gravitas. Perfect casting. I’m excited to see White and Red, and explore their themes individually and how the three come together collectively.