The second part of Krzystof Kieslowski’s seminal trilogy is his ‘funny one’. It tells the story of a man who has been put down, let down, and betrayed for his entire life, and how he turns his life around. It’s less ‘deep’ than the other films in the trilogy, and is thus the easiest to understand (whether that’s good or bad remains a matter of personal preference: some would argue that not understanding is the point), but it is also the most touching, and is laugh-out-loud funny in places. The imagery remains razor-sharp (the bird excreting on him at the beginning), and some of the shots are ‘pause the DVD and take it all in’ beautiful. It is a fine continuation of the saga.
The characterisation in this film is a lot richer, and runs deeper than Blue. Here we have a man, Karol, torn between the love of his divorced wife Dominique (a radiant yet quite horrible Julie Delpy), and his need to get back at her in the same fashion as she did to him (she declares his impotence in front of a court, leaves him homeless, and sets the police on him).
Clearly, that would leave any person bitter, yet his love is so powerful for his wife that any victory he would have would be short lived, because he would immediately feel sorry for her.
So, he enlists the help of a recently discovered depressed friend, and gets smuggled to Poland in a briefcase (in a continuation of his bad luck he gets stolen, and beaten up by Russian thieves). Once there he turns his life around spectacularly, and becomes a multi-millionaire businessman. However, he still has old scores to settle, and finds himself in a predicament: does he get revenge on his wife, or not. The conclusion, which I won’t ruin for you here, is a beautiful one, that doesn’t offer a clear cut conclusion, and I am not ashamed to admit that it left me in tears.
However, as I said, it is a lot less ambiguous: you’re always fairly sure that you know what’s going on. Yet there are some moments that just take your breath away, that wouldn’t fit in the other films, such as the cry of ‘I’m home’ when our hero makes it to Poland, and his constant obsession with the china bust he bought, seemingly his only reminder of the love of his life.
As a film it is exuberant, witty, and pokes fun at modern society, yet also emerges with its seriousness intact.
Zbigniew Zamachowski is a true character to root for, a man who always tries to remain upbeat despite the disservices done to him, and he never loses sight of his goal. Of the trilogy, he is probably the character I liked the most, and certainly the one I sympathised with and understood more than the others. He is a man who is real: he isn’t ridiculously good natured, he just knows what he wants, and is good to those that are good to him. His friendship with Mikolaj (Janusz Gajos) is tenderly played, and their scenes together are the best in the film. Their depression bounces off each other, creating chemistry that feels real, and a rapport that feels genuine.
This is generally by people regarded to be the weakest of the trilogy, and I am inclined to agree. Yet the fact that it is a genuine, bona fide, masterpiece, and a work of art, tells you what good company this film is in. The comedy is divine, the performances and direction are superb, and once more the cinematography and script are in a class of their own. Brilliance shines through every frame.
Check out the White trailer