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  Three Colours: Blue Free As A Cagebird
Year: 1993
Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Stars: Juliette Binoche, Benoît Régent, Florence Pernel, Charlotte Véry, Hélène Vincent, Philippe Volter, Claude Duneton, Hugues Quester, Emmanuelle Riva, Florence Vignon, Daniel Martin, Jacek Ostaszewski, Catherine Therouenne, Yann Trégouët, Alain Ollivier
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: Julie Vignon (Juliette Binoche) was content with her life spent bringing up her five-year-old daughter and supported by her revered classical composer husband, but that happiness crashed down around her ears when the car the family were travelling in had a malfunction and veered off a country road straight into the only tree around. The husband and daughter were killed almost instantly, but Julie lived on, and such was her grief at having lost all she cared about that her reaction was nothing short of drastic: she would get rid of everything...

Three Colours: Blue, or Trois Coleurs: Bleu as it was originally, was the first in a themed trilogy of loosely linked stories from much-respected Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski, here working in France on a series based around the colours of that nation's flag: this was the freedom themed one, or liberty if you preferred. Each of these works showcased a famed beauty of French movies of the day, so here it was Binoche's chance, having been forced to turn down his request she star in The Double Life of Veronique a couple of years earlier. The result was a film which won huge admiration across the world.

But then, it was precisely the type of serious minded and lovingly photographed tale which would find favour with those adherents of art movies. For others, it was the epitome of the hard to get behind, high-falutin' academic exercise whose very coldness and movement towards an artistic clarity was enough to turn them right off it, and the fact that it starred Binoche, one of the most difficult to read actresses of her generation was not helping any. In truth, that quality made Binoche an inspired example of Kieslowski's casting, and her enigmatic performance suggested plunging depths of meaning as a matter of course.

That meaning was not so much a celebration of liberty, but that it was harder to get a grasp on than many, and Julie in particular, would like to believe. When she has recuperated sufficiently to return home, she decides that if she cannot commit suicide, then she will take another option: she will free herself from the bonds of her life by shutting down all of her relationships and selling all her possessions. This she does, even going as far as destroying her late husband's last compositions, and moving into a new apartment to begin a life of complete anonymity. Yet this is easier said than done, as those pesky people around her continue to intrude, indicating that she will never get her wish.

But this is not all bad, as after a while she comes around to the idea that no man, or woman for that matter, is an island, and she does need others around her to support her, no matter if she was feeling lonely or not. Loneliness didn't really enter into the proceedings, as the tragedy Julie has endured has left her numb to society. Occasionally she will feel an intrusion into her bubble of existence, sometimes self-induced as when she runs her knuckles across a stone wall, but more often from those such as her husband's pregnant mistress who causes her to reassess her marriage, or the stripper who lives downstairs and got to keep her apartment through Julie's inaction. On the surface, Blue was impeccably rendered, with exquisite closeups and exacting use of colour, not simply the title one, but for those unconvinced by its final embrace of love this wasn't half a difficult film to warm to, or at least better with intellect than emotion. Music by Zbigniew Preisner.

[Artificial Eye's Blu-ray box set features all three films in pristine prints, along with a number of interviews, making ofs and a masterclass as extras to fill in the background to these arthouse favourites.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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