Red is the third and final movie in the "colors" trilogy from Krzysztof Kieslowski, and it's probably the most intimate and ponderous of the trilogy, (Blue, White and Red). We follow the young, quixotic and somewhat emotionally dependent model Valentine (Irene Jacob) who accidentally runs over a dog one night as she was distracted by her own thoughts. Valentine returns the dog to its obviously callous, indifferent and reclusive owner Joseph Kern (Jean-Louis Trintignant). Valentine takes the dog to the vet and finds out that she's pregnant, so she adopts the dog for herself, but the dog soon finds its way back to Joseph. As Valentine and Joseph chat with each other, Valentine discovers that Joseph is a former judge, an erudite man, but an erudite who's also taken to listening to the conversations of his neighbors. Valentine is appalled and threatens to tell all the families, Joseph tells her to go ahead. Valentine also overhears her neighbor, Auguste (Jean-Pierre Lorit) who's busy studying to become a judge himself, with his girlfriend Karin (Frederique Feder) by his side. Joseph asks Valentine if she thinks they're in love and Valentine says yes, while Joseph disagrees.
Joseph later admits to what he'd been doing to all his neighbors all this time and they file a class action against the former judge. Valentine sees the article in the paper and then goes to see Joseph to tell him that it wasn't her who told on him, Joseph tells her that he turned himself in just to see how she'd react. Joseph also reveals that his dog has had puppies, seven of them. Valentine and Joseph have a discussion about crime and punishment, human nature, justice, the possible repercussions that a judge has to live with every ruling, the constant feeling of regret and doubt. Finding himself ostracized from the community now Joseph reveals that it's his birthday and Valentine stays to have a few drinks and converse with Joseph. The intrigue, emotion and heft of the conversation reminded me of 'My Dinner with Andre'.
Meanwhile Auguste discovers that his girlfriend had been cheating on him for some time, proving that Joseph was right, they weren't in love, it's of little comfort or consequence to either of them though. In an unusually candid moment, Joseph reveals that he disliked Karin because he was in love with a similar girl who also cheated on him, he could see the writing on the wall. Isn't it remarkable how some people can see what's so obvious when other people can't, or won't. While presiding over a case, Joseph found the man who took his love away from him at the mercy of his ruling, and Joseph threw the book at him, which caused the Judge to question his ethics and resign his post.
The platonic relationship that slowly develops between Joseph and Valentine is quite touching and endearing, the two connect on an emotional level that they probably wouldn't have were it not for his dog, and while their relationship is challenging, it's also deeply fulfilling. Krzysztof Kieslowski indirectly explores themes like destiny, fate, friendship, coincidences, predetermination and self determination between all the characters involved in Red, and not only the two main characters I mentioned either, these themes are also intertwined with his previous two movies as well, Blue and White.
Admittedly these themes could have been explored with a bit more clarity in Red, but the nuances and subtext are there if you're looking for them. Red is a rich movie in a lot of ways, visually striking, but I thought it could sometimes be a little too nebulous for its own good, a little too ineffective at exploring its themes, or maybe that's just me. I thought the ending was a little too serendipitous and fortuitous for my liking too, as if Red was merely functioning as a neat little bow for the Blue and White movies. I watched all three movies over a few days (more or less) and I thought White was the best, Red was the most interesting and Blue was the most ambitious.
Written by - The Sentry - 07/10/2015