Imagine that the woman you love has successfully filed a claim against you, and that this claim has become so nasty the courts have awarded her all her freedom. In turn, however, all which you have worked for so hard has gone down the drain and a pair of scissors snip your access to monetary freedom, effectively making you a homeless person who can't even go back home.
Much more vicious than its predecessor, THREE COLORS: WHITE introduces us to this story of a marriage gone sour. Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski), named so for his clear link to the Everyman we all know as Charlie Chaplin (the actor has a passing resemblance to the character) is the man in question, who has lost everything and in turn is marinating in two very different emotions: the desire to get even, but the need to get his wife Dominique (Julie Delpy) back.
The tone established in WHITE is fate. Even in its darker moments there is an element that something beyond the characters' control is making its way to an uncertain conclusion. I can see that in the scene when Karol meets Mikolaj (Janusz Gajos), an enigmatic man who passes him by and recognizes a song he is playing on a comb: their interaction under the streets of Paris feels almost preordained and it's not surprising when soon Mikolaj, a man with a secret, is helping Karol get back to Poland.
What is surprising is the way these events happen, but I will not reveal them because of two things: one of them has to do with a test of friendship that suddenly swings the film into high gear and liberates it from its moral heaviness seen in the first third of the film, and secondly, because Kieszlowski connects several disjointed scenes involving Dominique and Karol that will eventually reveal themselves not to be out of time or imagined but very real.
THREE COLORS: WHITE is all about the symbolic nature of the color inasmuch as 'equality'. At the beginning Karol is 'erased' from society. He has been whited out because he could not consummate his marriage. There is a gun fired, but it only has blanks. Dominique is a woman with a white-hot, destructive personality. White doves come into a scene where Mikolaj, an angel of sorts, saves Karol from a grim destiny, and the angelic face of love is the white bust that survives most of the film as Karol begins his plans to move against Dominique.
At the same time we have two moments of its position in the French flag that also come into play when seen as a trilogy. At the beginning, Karol's freedom (blue) is destroyed as his bank card is repossessed. Equality (white) shimmers in one particular scene in which Dominique achieves orgasm. In the closing, irony-filled sequences, Dominique is seen enveloped in lush red tones, which will establish the tone of the next film RED, fraternity.