White, 1994

White is a fascinating, dark comedy about obsession, revenge, and redemption, replete with subtle irony. It is also a disturbing portrait of the price exacted when a soul is consumed by its own destructive passions. Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski) is a broken Polish immigrant whose beautiful French wife, Dominique (Julie Delpy), publicly humiliates him in a French courtroom during their divorce hearing. While panhandling on a Paris subway, he meets a fellow countryman, who would later become his most trusted confidant. They are both melancholy and want to go home. Through a series of fortuitous, albeit sinister events, Karol returns to a corrupted, post-communist Poland. Through illicit means, he sets out to make his fortune, and attempts to reclaim his life and love. White is a highly engaging film about complex human emotions. It is also Kieslowski’s personal statement on the disintegration of his beloved homeland. There are several bittersweet moments when a tormented Karol watches his beloved from a distance. It is as if Karol, like Kieslowski himself, realizes that he can never go home again.

Kieslowski’s achronologic use of flash forwards and flashbacks illustrates the film’s underlying theme – resurrection (note the similar effect achieved in Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru). Karol flashes back to his wedding day, with an image of his bride in a white wedding dress, during the divorce proceeding. There is a glimpse of Dominique in a white room… Is Karol also recounting the episode in his mind? Time is deliberately obscured; events seem cyclical. It is a story that begins with an end, and ends with a beginning.

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