With none of the dead pan seriousness of the ‘Red or ‘Blue’ films, Three Colours White is far more watchable, and infinitely more satisfying. Karol, who begins the film a sort of pathetic buffoon (spoilers) re-incarnates himself as a street wise money man in contemporary (1994) and (mostly) rural Poland; and he is extremely successful. Why does he do it though? To get back at his ex-wife of course, who begins the film as something of a bitch and ends in it prison. Which is potentially a bit harsh depending on how you read the film. Like all the best revenge stories it is best served very cold and in drastic overdose. That said what you bring to the film really does make a huge difference to it. Like a sort of Polish Old Boy, Karol is perversely driven by his need for revenge, but he is potentially as driven by his love for his former wife. He has a huge heart, it seems like everyone else loves him. He changes how he acts, how he looks and even how he speaks but he still ends the film with tears in his eyes as his wife asks him to marry her again. This made me love him a bit too, I think he’d be just fine without her. What it comes down to is what you think these tears really mean. Karols issues with his wife are inextricably linked to sex, his transformation is crowned by his ability to finally consumate their marriage, a good few years too late. It seems like the film is telling us that sex comes with success, or at least self worth does, and that sex is somehow related to this, which I guess is problematic in itself, but also it is that it is ultimately the womans issue here, this makes it a real problem. It does not read well that the pair ostensibly divorce because sex is an issue, specifically her issue, and that when Karol can finally satisfy her in the bedroom she falls in love with him again. Karol plays the game well, gives her what she wants, then sees her locked away, one finds themselves hoping that his tears are not of joy at a potential future together, but joy at the success of his plan. But this means we think that wanting a good shag from your husband must be punished. Should we be talking about the problematic portrayal of women through the rubric of sex, or should we be praising Karol for exposing a fundemental misunderstanding of love? I’m choosing to overlook it, because I cant actually decide either way. Three Colours White makes me feel good, and I hope that Karol is happy, what ever happens, and if I am willing to suspend my disbelief for long enough to wish a fictional character a happy future then the film must be doing something right.
Three Colours White