The first in the Three Colors trilogy, Blue, a film by Krzysztof Kieslowski, is a powerful but intimate opus on the life of a woman who has lost those closest to her, and her attempt to piece her life back together by ripping away the wounded pieces.
Blue opens on blue-tinged roads, the first sign of liberty, a highway before proceeding to the countryside. A young girl watches the cars out the back window, all those connections not made. A moment later, there is a horrible crash. The young girl dies, as does her father. Only the mother, Julie, played by Juliette Binoche, remains. Julie’s life is no longer what it once was. The wife of a great composer, she is forced to face a new world where his shadow follows her. And so she goes on a crusade to find any way not to grieve. In doing so, however, she learns to grieve in her own way.
She destroys the great opus that her husband–or perhaps she–had been creating as an attempt to shed that life. But the wonderful chorus of that work rings out as she tosses it into the trash compactor, warbling for only a moment before closing out strong. It’ll always be there, whether she destroys it or not. Julie even tries to fill that emptiness in her heart by sleeping with her husband’s best friend. He looks at her with adoration and love, while she just stares back.
All of these attempts to erase her old life only trap her deeper in the grip of her grief. Old keepsakes, like the blue jewels that hung from her daughter’s bedroom, and old wounds, like finding her husband’s lover, continue to remind her of what she’s lost. Even in her pantry, there is a small and lively reminder of her family.
The inability to move on haunts her; these moments of emotion creep up on her refusing to leave her mind. Her husband’s work still remains, like her grief, no matter the attempt to excise it. It is used only in fragments and its impact is sudden and commanding, as though it cannot be contained in her mind. Kieslowski briefly fades to black for most of these instances, as though the film itself is trying to block out its emotions.
Juliette Binoche gives a beautiful performance. Even at the coldest and most distant, the character is still very real and expertly human. She plays the character with a care and kindness that hides behind her defenses, and over the course of the film, gives way to tenderness and resolve.
Three Colors: Blue is a film about the reminders of the life that we sometimes wish to forget, but are so ingrained in us that is unreasonable to think of them as burdens. Some are, surely, but others are who we are. Julie faces this in every facet of the film, and it drives forward the great film that Kieslowski has made.