Red | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The third and best feature of Krzysztof Kieslowski's highly ambitious "Three Colors" trilogy, which here concentrates on the theme of "fraternity" after tackling "liberty" in Blue and "equality" in White, this can certainly be seen without the other two films, though it means a lot more if you know them. The principal characters are a young student and model (Irene Jacob) and a cynical retired judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant) whose paths cross by chance in Geneva, and in a way their meeting comes to stand for a good many of the other accidental incidents threaded through this densely textured movie, including one that ties up many of the loose ends of the two previous films. The telephone and (to a lesser degree) the TV set both play substantial roles in linking these and other lives, but they are far from the only linchpins in Kieslowski's poetic universe; among others are the color red and the filmmaker's own sardonic identification with the mordant former judge, who eavesdrops on the phone conversations of his neighbors and seems to hate them and himself in about equal measure. It's probably too soon to know whether the mystical unity at the heart of this film points to a merely formal brilliance or to a profound grasp of the spiritual state of Europe in the mid-90s; given the various uncertainties and confusions of Blue and White, multinational and otherwise, I suspect the former is closer to the truth. But there's no denying the surface beauties here, and if Kieslowski chooses to make this his last film, as he has claimed, it is certainly a lovely swan song. Fine Arts.

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