The second part in Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colours trilogy (where each film represents a principle of the French Revolution) stands for equality, and follows a divorced man (Zbigniew Zamachowski) who escapes Paris after being humiliated, made homeless and framed for arson by his ex-wife (Julie Delpy). Dejected and broke, he sets out to win her back, which wouldn’t make sense if it was anyone other than Julie Delpy.
White is the only chapter in the trilogy to be set in Kieślowski’s native Poland, whose washed-out landscapes provide the titular colour (although Grey might have been more accurate), and whose recent capitalist independence gives Zamachowski his second chance. Like every aspect of the trilogy, the theme of equality is quite inscrutable, as Kieślowski’s subtle, ambiguous storytelling could be interpreted as an exploration of economic equality, moral equality, marriage equality or simply the equality that comes from revenge.
Where it differs from Blue and Red is its dark sense of humour, given a slight Charlie Kaufman meets Coen brothers quality by Zamachowski’s natural yet absurd transition from loser to schemer. Delpy is quietly commanding as the most extreme character in the series, and through their relationship Kieślowski probes the line between romance and revenge, and love and hate. The drama’s surprising turns and lingering irony make for another intriguing instalment, ensuring that Kieślowski’s flag will be flown for a long time yet.