Three Colors: Red (1994)

three colors red poster 1994 movie
10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Brings the series themes together, interesting plot


Movie Info

Movie Name: Three Colors:  Red

Studio: MK2 Productions

Genre(s): Drama

Release Date(s):  May 16, 1994 (Cannes)/November 23, 1994 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

three colors red bubble gum shoot irene jacob

You’re right…chewing gum in a bubble gum ad is stupid…use a picture where the model looks like she’s having an existential crisis

Model and student Valentine Dussaut (Irène Jacob) finds herself saddled with a dog when she accidentally hits it while driving at night.  Seeking out the dog’s owner, Valentine meets a judge named Joseph Kern (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who has an odd (and illegal) habit of spying on people’s private phone conversations.  While Valentine is disgusted by the behavior she begins to befriend the judge and finds her own life taking strange turns she never expected.

Written and directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski, Three Colors:  Red is the final film in Kieślowski’s Three Colors TrilogyFollowing White (also released in 1994), the film’s title comes from the colors of the French flag and takes its theme from the French Revolution’s idea of fraternity.  Premiering at Cannes, the film was released to praise and received Academy Award nominations for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #590) as part of their Three Colors Trilogy boxset (Criterion #587).

three colors red irene jacob jean louis trintignant

I’m not saying you should spy…but could we listen to more calls?

I hear debating if Blue or Red is the better film in the Three Color TrilogyRed gets all the credit of being the last film while Blue is a solid start to the series.  For me, the themes and ideas of Red come together with the whole trilogy’s ideas and themes in a satisfying conclusion.

The story of Red is full of layers and chance meetings.  Throughout the course of the Three Colors films, the characters all share the same world at various times though they don’t run in the same circles.  Here, it is the idea in general of the movie.  There is no reason that Valentine should be friends with the judge, but for some reason, a kinship is built.  They care for each other in a non-sexual way that defies logic and fits the “fraternity” aspect of Kieślowski’s idea.  They can be different people and they can have faults, but some things are universal and the universe has ways of expressing it.  You keep expecting the ties between Valentine and the other characters to be shown in the courtroom, but they are revealed to have a bigger parallels at the end of the film.  Call it fate or kismet, life has ways of bringing people together.

three colors red ending

Gee…we have a future…all it took was a whole bunch of deaths

In many ways, you could argue that Irène Jacob is the only truly good character in the film series.  Throughout the movies, you see a bent, old woman struggling to put a bottle in a recycling bin.  Jacob’s Valentine is the only one who offers help.  It is this personality that wins the bitter judge played by Jean-Louis Trintignant in a way that doesn’t make you hate him despite his vices.  Jean-Pierre Lorit is the neighbor (who Valentine doesn’t know) who ends up swept up in the lives of the other two characters.

The movie is much like Blue in that the color theme plays out in the movie through the visuals.  Red often is considered a fiery color, but here, it is more a color of passion.  Valentine isn’t happy with her life and her emotions are kind of painted on.  She thinks she knows right and wrong, but meeting the judge helps kind of change that.  The movie is tinted in this red theme often, and it helps drive the point home.

Three Colors:  Red wraps up a great trilogy.  Trilogies can often end in a letdown, but Red ends the series strong.  The movie brings together the ideas of all the films while still standing strong on its own moral tale.   Kieślowski opted to retire after the release of Red, but shockingly died at the age of fifty-four after a heart attack and a surgery.  Three Colors remains a great tribute to him, and Red shines even brighter.

Related Links:

Three Colors:  Blue (1993)

Three Colors:  White (1994)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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