Julie (Juliette Binoche) is completely devastated when her husband Patrice, an internationally renowned composer, and her young daughter are killed in a car crash which she survives.
Binoche (Best Actress - 1993 Venice Film Festival) brilliantly carries off the emotions and moods of Julie as she suffers through a long mourning period. On the surface she is passive and angry and displays little emotion. Like Anthony Hopkins in Remains of the Day, her performance must show the surface as stoic and her inner emotions boiling and near explosion. As the battle wages within, Julie chooses liberty, total freedom from all she knows. Blue is the symbol for liberty. She leaves her home and moves into a flat in Paris and attempts to disappear. Her only connection is her husband's music, from which she cannot escape in her mind or on the street when she hears it played. It is eventually the bridge for he return.
Director Krzysztof Kieslowski weaves blue light onto the film from the first scene in a tunnel where the death car is traveling toward its fate to the one physical possession Julie keeps, a mobile made up of blue glass crystals. She also swims in a pool lit with blue light. The accident scene is filmed in a very chilling realistic style. From the eyes of a young man on the road, a thud is heard and the camera sweeps toward the black sedan, puffing smoke with its front end buried in a tree. No large slow motion shock treatment, but a true recreation of what happens in an accident. It is sudden, not spectacular, and over very quickly. The lives inside end in those few seconds.
The recovery is very slow, as it is in life. There is no one sudden event which changes Julie and brings her back to the living. It takes time to surmount her kind of loss. She vents her anger on herself, at one point scraping her knuckles on a brick wall opening wounds as if to punish herself for surviving. She comes back through the avenue of her husband's music slowly, like snow melting toward Spring.
This is a profound performance and a cleverly directed work. However, it is not for Steven Seagal or Ninja Turtle fans. It is a slow metamorphosis through the grieving process presented without glamor or glory.
It is in French with English subtitles.