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Three Colors: Red (Trois couleurs: Rouge)

Three Colors: Red (Trois couleurs: Rouge) (1994)



Average Rating: 8.8/10
Reviews Counted: 47
Fresh: 47 | Rotten: 0

A complex, stirring, and beautifully realized portrait of interconnected lives, Red is the captivating conclusion to a remarkable trilogy.


Average Rating: 8.3/10
Critic Reviews: 12
Fresh: 12 | Rotten: 0

A complex, stirring, and beautifully realized portrait of interconnected lives, Red is the captivating conclusion to a remarkable trilogy.



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Average Rating: 4.2/5
User Ratings: 34,257

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Movie Info

A beautiful model named Valentine crosses paths with a retired judge, whose dog she runs over with her car. The lonely judge, she discovers, amuses himself by eavesdropping on all of his neighbors' phone conversations. Near Valentine's apartment lives a young man who aspires to be a judge and loves a woman who will betray him. From these characters' proximity comes spiritual kinship and mutual redemption.


Art House & International, Drama

Mar 4, 2003

Miramax Films

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All Critics (47) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (47) | Rotten (0) | DVD (12)

The third and best feature of Krzysztof Kieslowski's highly ambitious Three Colors trilogy.

August 8, 2012 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Another deft, deeply affecting variation on Krzysztof Kieslowski's recurring theme that people are interconnected in ways they can barely fathom.

January 22, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Stunningly beautiful, powerfully scored and immaculately performed, the film is virtually flawless, and one of the very greatest cinematic achievements of the last few decades. A masterpiece.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Red succeeds so stirringly that it also bestows some much-needed magic upon its predecessors.

May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Undaunted by the tremendous emotional and moral valence he has by now invited us to expect, Kieslowski controls the film magnificently, putting to use the shapely formal precision he took an entire career to work out.

June 12, 2002 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Visually and emotionally, this is the director's warmest film.

January 1, 2000
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

No better swan song to such a rich, weighty career has yet been filmed.

September 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

[Kieślowski's] microcosmic scrutiny of the world, sans judgment, suggests all things happen at once.

November 12, 2012 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

A superb example of French arthouse which is also very watchable.

August 8, 2012 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

It's a marvellous culmination of the trilogy, which together make some of the most fascinating stories in film.

August 8, 2012 Full Review Source: Film4

Explores fraternity in large part as much through the dynamic of neighbors and community as through potential one-on-one friendships or romances. [Blu-ray]

December 31, 2011 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

... the most densely and deftly woven of the three films.

December 17, 2011 Full Review Source: Turner Classic Movies Online
Turner Classic Movies Online

a beautiful film both emotionally and philosophically, not to mention aesthetically

November 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

the narrative seems delicate but precise, and it is difficult to say why the story and the images are so captivating, except that the film’s modulation of revelation, beauty and anticipation is exquisite.

June 14, 2007

A truly remarkable film -- nothing short of a masterpiece.

March 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

The most complicated and most celebrated of the trio.

July 1, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

An engrossing meditation on fate, chance, and parallel lives.

January 7, 2005 Full Review Source:

The last segment of Kiewsloski's Three Color trilogy (Blue, White) is the jewel in the crown, meditative and mystical as the others yet warmer and more accessible in large part due to Jacob and Trintingnant's appealing performances.

December 11, 2004 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

The finest of three classic films, "Red" is unforgettable.

December 11, 2003
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Not an earth-shaking theme, to be sure, but this is art-house cinema of a very traditional kind, and its pleasures are familiar rather than compelling.

July 30, 2003 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

he cumulative punch of Kieslowski's achievement -- a narrative, visual and aural knockout -- sends one staggering out of the theater, dizzy with the delight of being challenged to think and reeling from the artistry of a master filmmaker at work.

May 20, 2003
Palo Alto Weekly

This is the director at the top of his game.

August 29, 2002 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Three Colors: Red (Trois couleurs: Rouge)

A stirring, fitting final chapter to director Krzysztof Kieslowski's "Three Colors" trilogy, dealing with a model (Irene Jacob) who starts a relationship with a reclusive judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant) after a terrible accident. Where "Blue" missed a compelling complementary character to its lead star, "Red" shines from start to finish chronicling two very different people whose relationship does not feel contrived for a second. This is a passionate, intimate, subtle look on life and caring for other people, and it is thanks to two fine actors in Jacob and Trintignant that we care for these characters so much. This is a simple masterpiece that takes its time and never tries to "wow" you, but thanks to a well-controlled screenplay, as well as a devastatingly beautiful final act, it will remain lodged in your memory for eternity. Bravo!
December 20, 2011
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

Somewhat surreal and intriguing story, set around the beautiful Lake Geneva, of a young woman just starting out in life meeting a cynical old man who helps her find her way and in return gives him the peaceful release he needs. The pace is a bit slow in the early stages but it builds up to form the best movie in the trilogy.
January 16, 2011

Super Reviewer

Red is a fantastic finale to the Trilogy, it's not as strong as Blue but it's nearly as beautiful. I think the ending and how the three films join is a little disappointing to be honest but it doesn't distract to much from this film as a stand alone piece. It's a great example of what is good about 90's cinema. Highly recommended, the films as a trilogy get a five out of five rating from me!
October 12, 2010

Super Reviewer

When Three Colours -- Red first opened in America, Roger Ebert made the observation that it was "grown-up filmmaking: a film by an adult, for adults". Regardless of Ebert's snootiness towards the perceived infantilism of Hollywood, or the grossy inflated level of praise for European art films, there is no doubt that Three Colours -- Red is a truly wonderful film. The concluding instalment in Krzysztof Kieslowski's trilogy of films on French culture is a sumptuous and ravishing affair, combining intelligent storytelling with an uncompromising artistic flair to create a bewitching experience.

Following on from Blue's treatment of liberty and White's examination of equality, Red completes the study of the French motto by tackling fraternity. This is played out in two distinct but complimentary ways. One is the relationship between Valentine, a beautiful model with a complicated family life, and Joseph Kern, a retired judge who spies on his neighbours by tapping their phone lines. This is the 'anti-romance' of the film, since these characters have no real reason to be connected, let alone attracted to each other. Let's face it, returning a dog you just ran over is not the greatest of ice-breakers.

If this were a Hollywood rom-com, the device of the dog would be considerably overplayed, and the opposing personalities played for (attempted) comic effect. The two would have either walked off into the sunset after much bickering, or would have fought against the world to keep their forbidden love alive. Kieslowski attempts no such nonsense; the feelings these characters have for each other is strictly platonic -- strictly fraternal.

As the characters begin to engage with each other, drawn together by the circumstance of the dog, we see the judge beginning to open up and acknowledge both his significance and his ability for empathy. His final scenes, at the fashion show and watching the TV reports, are analogous to Gene Hackman's final scenes in The Conversation, to which his character owes a debt. Both his smile at the TV and Hackman's saxophone playing are small but significant moments of triumph in surroundings which would otherwise cause despair.

The second means by which fraternity is explored is in the series of coincidences which appear throughout the film. For example, early on a man is walking across the road and drops his books. One book falls open on a certain page; he studies the words intently, and that subject comes up on his law exam, which he manages to pass. In the final act, the judge talks to Valentine about an identical experience he had as a young student, with the exact same outcome.

These kinds of coincidences suggest one of two things. Either they suggest that the characters are in some kind of intergenerational time-loop, in which the actions of one generation will be indirectly repeated, a la The Shining. Or, perhaps more likely, they suggest that these kinds of encounters happen all the time, mostly or almost always without our knowledge. They are impossible to predict or control, since they are inherent either in our cultures or in our very being.

This is the brotherhood (or sisterhood) which the film explores, people living out lives in an unconsciously similar fashion, with similar goals, needs or desires. Kieslowski doesn't attempt to tie this down to a solid definition of 'human nature' (if there is such a thing), and hence we don't get a lot of patronising platitudes about what it means to be alive. He leaves both the cause and effect of these encounters unwritten, save for hinting that our desire to connect, whatever the cause and end, can only be a good thing.

In order for this kind of premise to work, we have to believe that the people we are seeing on screen are ordinary people, as opposed to good-looking actors pretending to be normal. Kieslowski is not a documentarian, but he somehow manages to sustain all his artistic and philosophical flights of fancy by anchoring the film in a number of believable performances. Irène Jacob's dialogue is sparse and simple, with no outrageously self-indulgent metaphors which could distract from either the story or her great performance. Kieslowski has a level of artistry which offers up substance and ravishing beauty without shutting the audience out; we feel intimate with the characters, while slowly becoming aware of their greater significance.

This sense of intimacy and 'the unwritten' is bolstered by the cinematography, which is simply beautiful to behold. As with Blue and White, there is barely a shot in the film which is not covered in the colour of the title. Piotr Sobociński captures an entire spectrum of deep and passionate reds which give the film real life and glamour, which is of course in keeping with the fashion elements of the plot. Red is a symbol for many things -- love, anger, passion -- and all of these are offered up as potential candidates for the 'unwritten' force which guides the characters in the film.

Even if you're not trying to decode the meaning of a scene, every shot of the film washes over you in a wave of beauty. Whether it's the lovely external shots, showing the flat and the café, or the interior segments with all the bright lights and mirrors, there's something which will inspire and delight anyone. The camerawork is always interesting, with many long shots to give the more intimate sequences a chance to breathe and give emphasis to the smallest encounter, the kind of conversations and sweet nothings which more rapid editing would render meaningless. There is a great moment where the model and the judge are in the theatre, and he is talking about the book falling down from the balcony. The camera moves down from the balcony to the stage, mirroring the fall of the book -- a decision which illuminates what is arguably the pivotal scene of the film.

In any kind of sprawling character epic, whether it's Love Actually or Magnolia, there has to be a slightly awkward scene where all these lives are tied together so that we realise how they are all somehow connected. As has been made clear, the fact that Kieslowski does not over-elaborate on all these little connections means that the ending seems more intelligent and less contrived than its American or British equivalents. It's still slightly awkward, but it's hard to think of a better way to tie this trilogy together.

Three Colours -- Red is not quite a perfect film. It is a little difficult to follow at times, and some of the characters are underdeveloped, such as the gentleman on the phone whom the judge suspects of smuggling heroin. It may be the case that these things all make sense on subsequent viewing, and that is reassuring because the film invites you to remain in its world until, like the characters, we realise why we were here. Like Michelangelo Antonioni or a more upbeat David Lynch, Red has a bewitching quality to it, a certain atmosphere that makes you want to go back and unravel all the little pieces. It's a really fascinating film, and a fine conclusion to Kieslowski's career.
March 12, 2010
Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Drei Farben: Rot (DE)
  • Red (Trois couleurs Rouge) (UK)
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