Three Colors: White (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1994)

The plot – namely Karol’s rise from the gutter to prominence seemingly at the snap of a finger and his revenge (a nice and refreshing surprise of a plot twist, I must admit) going down without a hitch – is completely and utterly implausible and ridiculous, but somehow Kieslowski makes it work by doing what I guess you could call deadpan directing. Even though Karol gets shit on by a bird, is sexually humiliated on the phone by his ex-wife, is smuggled into Poland in a suitcase and gets kidnapped by mobsters while still in said suitcase, and wears a suit and slicks his hair back Pat Riley style to try to act all suave and sophisticated when he comes into money, Kieslowski never plays it up for straight-up laughs. I wouldn’t even call it a dark comedy per se, but just a series of unfortunate events for an impotent, suddenly-homeless hairdresser whose completely implausible adventures are presented about as realistically as you could hope for, with even a hint of moving pathos when it comes to his relationship with a well-dressed, well-spoken, suicidal man who takes him under his wing (there was just something truly special about Janusz Gajos’s performance as Karol’s benefactor Milolaj that I can’t quite put my finger on – probably has something to do with how his noble, almost fatherly deadpan style fits with Karol’s (Zbigniew Zamachowski) almost effeminate, but endearing and sympathetic patheticness, like a glove). Morbidly funny, deeply ironic and cynical, and admittedly unpredictable, “White” was a nice change of pace from the unbearably heavy likes of “Blue” and “The Double Life of Veronique” (both of which were very good films in their own right, and probably ‘better’ than this film, but even with the same director at the helm, it’s like comparing apples and oranges that came from the same fruit basket) – refreshingly light fare, this was, or at least as close to ‘light’ as you can get when it comes to Kieslowski.

8/10

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