Three Colors: Blue (Trois Couleurs: Bleu)

1993

Three Colors: Blue (Trois Couleurs: Bleu)

Critics Consensus

Three Colors: Blue contains some of director/co-writer Krzysztof Kieslowski's most visually arresting, emotionally resonant work -- and boasts an outstanding performance from Juliette Binoche in the bargain.

98%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 43

93%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 38,535
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Movie Info

A woman (Juliette Binoche) loses her composer husband and child in a tragic accident and must learn to deal with her drastically altered life. Benoît Régent, Florence Pernel, Charlotte Véry.

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Critic Reviews for Three Colors: Blue (Trois Couleurs: Bleu)

All Critics (43) | Top Critics (6)

Audience Reviews for Three Colors: Blue (Trois Couleurs: Bleu)

  • Aug 15, 2014
    This film isn't exactly what I was expecting, because I was thinking that this was supposed to be about 80 minutes of a blue screen and narrations about Derek Jarman's life... in English. No, wait, this is just the other avant-garde film from 1993 that was coincidentally titled "Blue", or, in the case of the French... "Bleu". We ignorant Americans just rearranged the letters, kind of like we rearranged the pattern of colors on the French flag for our flag, as this trilogy will remind you, for whatever reason. Yeah, maybe I shouldn't have gotten this film confused with Jarman's "Blue", because, sadly, Jarman didn't live to be able to make another two of these blasted movies. Blue on the flag represents liberty, so maybe they should have called this film "Liberty", because it's hard enough to find an avant-garde film when just one of them shares a title and year with another one. Anyways, the fact of the matter is that there are two more of these films, and I keep addressing that because there's not too much more going on in this drama than there is in Jarman's "Blue", 80 minutes of a blue screen and narration. Man, this movie is dull, although it does have its commendable aspects, at least in concept. An intimate portrait on a woman coping with an impossible tragedy, not through human interaction, but through isolation which doubles as a subtle social commentary, this film's story is minimalist, and its telling is so thin that it's difficult to get invested even in its potential, but the potential is there, promising intriguing dramatic and thematic value for Krzysztof Kieślowski to betray and do justice as director. Kieślowski meditative directorial style tends to be tedious, when it's not simply bland, as it's not justified by accessible material, although, when there is material for Kieślowski to draw upon, while it's never particularly effective, there ought to be some arousal to one's emotions, intelligence and, of course, aesthetic side. Kieślowski at least keeps consistent in working well with the film's style, and even then, there's only so much flare to the visual style, and only so much music at all, but when Zbigniew Preisner's genuine classical score is played up, it's powerful its own right and complimentary to the emotive aspects of this drama, and when Sławomir Idziak's cinematography is really allowed to flesh out its - you guessed it - blue palette in the context of hauntingly spare lighting, a sense of near-dreamy intimacy is biting. The style is primarily effective on its own, and that's impressive enough, considering just how outstanding the film's score and cinematography get to be, but it does do a fine job of complimenting what resonance there is to this cold affair. The lovely Juliette Binoche helps, though not as much as they, as she is earning praise for a performance which has hardly any material to work with, but is still asked to project a sense of distance and gloom as a woman faced with tragedy. The leading Julie de Courcy character does nothing but mope, never even having a major emotional breakthrough, but Binoche's subtlety and grace humanizes such a thin role enough to reflect worthy inspiration in a film which generally aspires to be nothing more than tedious in its subtlety. There is enough effective dramatic and aesthetic value to save the final product, but just barely, as the film is so aggravating in its misguidance, something that a minimalist story concept cannot afford to be faced with. I've given my praise to the dramatic and thematic value of this story concept as an intimate character study and social allegory, but this narrative might be too intimate for its own good, being minimalist in scope and potential, as surely as it is lacking in originality. This story isn't especially new, or, if it is, then the uniqueness is obscured a good bit by an execution which is very formulaic, as confusing as that sounds, given the storytelling has an artistically offbeat approach to subject matter which is minimalist enough in concept. This is yet another abstractly structured French drama which is too wrapped up in its realism to pick up momentum, and although that's not where the excess ends in this focally uneven and repetitious plot, the ostensibly thematic meditations on meanderings are too monotonous to sell the allegorical which are themselves too subtle, and the dramatic elements which are themselves too thin, not unlike the characterization which is supposed to drive the dramatics. The supporting characters feel like inconsequential supplements to the story of a lead who, despite being faced with particularly rough times, is nothing extraordinary, and is hardly nuanced, being well-portrayed by Juliette Binoche, but thinly drawn by the inexplicably sizable writing team of Krzysztof Kieślowski and Piesiewicz, Agnieszka Holland, and Edward Żebrowski. As effective as Binoche is, that is, with pathetically thin material, I never could get invested in a lead too uninteresting and problematic on paper to be sold without extensive characterization, thus, this intimate character study loses a lot of dramatic intrigue that it cannot afford to part with, no when Kieślowski, as director, takes such a subdued approach. The limply meditative storytelling structure goes accompanied by a limply meditative directorial atmosphere which has its moments, but, as you can imagine, primarily has hardly any material to draw upon with thoughtfulness, resulting in dull spells which are not occasional, or even recurrent, but all but consistent throughout this occasionally effective drama, drying out the atmosphere and trying your patience with enough tedium to frustrate. At the same time, there is plenty of simple dryness to meet the tedious moments, thus, the final product is too bland to be contemptible, but, make no mistake, it isn't exactly enjoyable, having its moments, but losing a lot of resonance through abstractionism, obviously never to be redeemed through entertainment value, whose absence secures the final product as totally inconsequential. Overall, there is some potential intrigue to this story concept which is done some justice when Krzysztof Kieślowski, as director, finds realization in his utilizing thoughtfulness, haunting musical and visual style, and a solid performance by Juliette Binoche to establish highlights in effectiveness which save the film from contempt, yet are seriously rare, or at least feel as though they are, for there are enough natural shortcomings to the intimate narrative, conventions to an already problematically monotonous meditative storytelling structure, thinness to the characterization, - even of an uninteresting lead - and tedium to a punishingly subdued atmosphere to make "Three Colors: Blue" something of a weak squandering of time, and only the beginning (Gulp... down some coffee, because there's two more to go). 2/5 - Weak
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • May 11, 2013
    Trois Couleurs: Bleu is the first part of the French classic trilogy directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski. If you stumbled upon this film without googling it first, you might missed the layers of symbolism present in this film. The idea of the three colors in the trilogy, which symbolize the three colors of French's flag, also represents the meaning of each. With blue, the movie defines liberty. And although, it's anti-politic and in a way ironic, the liberty message Kieslowski try to convey is clearly seen and heard in this heart-wrenching movie that tells the story of a widow who struggles through the guilt, sadness and sorrow of losing her husband and little daughter. And who plays it better than Juliette Binoche? Magnifique! 8.5/10.
    Mesh B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 29, 2013
    Blue is a phenomenal beginning to the three colors trilogy. The film surrounds a widow who lost her child and husband in a car accident, it shows her life after the event. The peculiar thing about the film, is we only hear about what she was like before the accident, and never see it. I'm not sure if this was the proper decision by director Kieslowski, because it resulted in lack of character development and a withdrawal of emotion from that scene. At the same time it kept the films focus on its purpose. The brilliance of Blue is that the director wasn't only concerned on the main characters, Julie's, suffering but also that of people that surround her. This includes an elderly woman and a hooker, the film is equally invested in the troubles of others. One thing I found questionable as something the character would do is Julie's decision on the house. It didn't seem fitting to make her seem so selfless. The film has an amazing score, and is visually stunning. One small scene that shows the visual excellence is the sugar cube sucking up the coffee. Emotionally difficult to watch, but in my mind an essential.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Mar 05, 2013
    You'd be hard pressed to find much criticism about the first film in Kieslowski's mediation on the central tenets of the French Revolution, but here goes. You know how the vast majority of people roll their eyes at any mention of foreign or art house cinema? Movies like Blue are the reason why. Pretentious, showy, artificial and nowhere near as profound as it thinks it is, this film centers around one woman's grief following the horrific accident that claimed the lives of her husband and only daughter. I'm all for ambiguous mood pieces, but what happens when one takes minimalism to its limit with a largely vacant protagonist? What is really being communicated? What is this film saying about grief, coping and the pursuit of repairing a broken life that hasn't been said far better in countless other films? Kieslowski's gimmicky directing, painfully obvious symbolism and nonsensical camera tricks are stilted at best, and absurd at worst. And that score. You know, the laughably invasive one that bulldozes you right before he cuts to black... only to reopen on the same scene? It's self serving enough to make John Williams blush. It doesn't take a genius to recognize that this trite score seems to swell during Julie's (Juliette Binoche) moments of specific introspection (get it? Because her husband's music/legacy/memory haunts her. How clever!), but I couldn't help but roll my eyes upon seeing Kieslowski go back to this well time and time again. And that ending. It seems to start with Julie having sex in a glass box full of water (?), and ends with an overwrought roll call of all the film's characters looking deep in thought. What is this, a film school thesis project? I've read countless articles that defend this film's abstract (i.e. meandering) nature by calling it "poetic cinema." Put Blue up against anything from Bunuel, Fellini or Jodorowsky's canon and it'll pale in comparison. The aforementioned directors deal in poetics as a means to tell a story, to explore a character. They don't need to trout out every single trick in a filmmaker's arsenal to cover up for shallow, half-baked ideas. If you're like me, and constantly feel compelled to defend art house foreign cinema from the mediocrity that dominates mainstream cinema, do not present Blue as evidence. It only reinforces every single stereotype.
    Jonathan H Super Reviewer

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