Why can’t more movies be as perfect as Red?

It’s hard to find a movie as intriguing, fun, and engrossing as Red. Red is the third and final installment of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors Trilogy. The first two in the trilogy were Blue and White. Red can be seen as complete without any knowledge of the previous two movies.

The movie follows the life of a Swiss model, Valentine (Irene Jacob), who’s living in Geneva. She is trying to keep a long distance relationship with her boyfriend in England. One night while driving home, Valentine hit a dog. She tried to return the dog to its owner, a reclusive retired judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant), known only as The Judge, who spies on his neighbours’ cordless telephone calls. We are then introduced to another minor story that follows Auguste (a newly graduated law student) and his love, Karin. But, is this really a minor part of the story?

What drives Red is not the zigzagging plot or the well developed characters, rather the mysteries and questions that arise during the film. Who is the man who refers to himself as The Judge? Who is Auguste and why is he so important to what’s happening? What does Valentine see in The Judge? Will Valentine ever meet Auguste? These questions drew me into the film. I wanted to know more; my curiosity was piqued. The beauty of Red is that it is able to hold our attentions without guns, car chases, or explosions. Red is a well-written novel, whereas a typical American movie with heroes, guns, car chases, and explosions looks like a comic book.

Red is a film about coincidence and fate. Red is a film about how these two things – coincidence and fate – mold our lives and how we don’t even realize it. Watch for different things that Kieslowski uses to show this. My favourite is the intersection where after Valentine makes a turn in her car to go home, in front of a massive billboard where her gum advertisement will be hanging right before Auguste crosses the street. Later in the film, we see Auguste stop at the same light in front of the gum advertisement and pause a second to smile at the ad. Instantly questions arise. These two have never met, but will they? Will fate bring them together? Or will fate make them diverge? There is the coincidence in which Valentine runs over – but doesn’t kill – The Judge’s dog. This event brings Valentine to The Judge’s house and this brings up even more questions about their platonic relationship.

I got Red on laserdisc for two reasons: A friend of mine recommended it to me a long time ago (thanks, Carlos!) In addition, I was curious to see other works of Irene Jacob, who I just saw in U.S. Marshals. I want first to apologize to Carlos for waiting so long to see this wonderful film. Second, I want to let off some steam about how wasted Irene Jacob’s talents were in U.S. Marshals. Jacob is a brilliant actress – as she demonstrates in Red– and her talents are completely wasted on playing such a throwaway part in U.S. Marshals. I hope Irene Jacob gets some better roles in the future; she deserves them.

Along with the brilliant performance by Irene Jacob comes the equally great performance by Jean-Louis Trintignant as The Judge. He plays his role perfectly. Watch for the scene in which he offers tea to Valentine.

Worth mentioning is Piotr Sobocinski’s beautiful cinematography and Claude Lenoir’s production design. Both stress the color red in a way that is non-intrusive and not distracting.

I wish more American filmmakers would take risks and put out movies like Red where the audience is drawn into the film not by the action or special effects but by the well-written, thought-provoking story and well-rounded dimensional characters. You can find Red on video; the dialogue is all French with English subtitles. If you’re looking for a testosterone-laden movie with guns, babes, fast cars, explosions and a mindless plot, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a thoughtful well-written film, Don’t Miss Red.

Edited by Cher Johnson.