White is the middle segment of Krzyzstof Kieslowski's Three
Colors trilogy. The white stripe of the French flag stands for
equality; Kieslowski spins this concept into a story of the equality,
or lack thereof, of a husband and wife whose marriage has collapsed
before the film has even begun. Karol Karol is a Polish hairdresser
whose skills have won him awards and the affections of a young French
woman named Dominique who marries him and moves him to Paris. But
Karol doesn't really take to France. He'd rather set up shop back in
Poland, but Dominique is unwilling to go with him. So she's on her
home turf, he isn't on his, and this inequality makes their relationship
go sour. Eventually Karol finds himself in divorce court in front of a
judge whose language he barely understands; not only will Dominique
not reconcile with him, she arranges things so he finds himself out on
the street with the police after him. It is only through a series of
misadventures that Karol makes it home to Warsaw.
White is basically a comedy, albeit one of the "life has its
droll moments" school rather than the "ha ha that guy farted" variety.
It's also amusing how Karol, who for the first half of the film seems
like little more than a clown, quickly proves himself a fellow to be
reckoned with back on his home soil, taking a few gambles in newly
capitalist Poland that pay off quite nicely. I remembered being bored
by White when I first saw it a decade ago but this time around
I quite enjoyed it.
Naturally, the impasse over who gets to stay where he or she is
comfortable and who has to live as an expatriate was of more than
academic interest to me. It is funny. Up until the mid-90s I worried
that my soulmate was in South Dakota or someplace and I would never know
it. It turns out that ignorance is only half the problem. The bright
side of living in the Internet age is that I'm not limited to the people
who happen to live in my town when it comes to making connections with
people; the flip side is that everyone I care about lives about a hundred
light-years from everyone else I care about. It seems that life will
pretty much suck in this regard until teleportation is invented. Let's
get Tim Berners-Lee working on that.
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