Blind Chance (Day 53)
My Opinion: 6.0 || Good social commentary but disappointingly prosaic direction from a filmmaker with Kieslowski’s gifts. The premise of split lives is one that he went on to explore poignantly in later films, but here it feels underdeveloped until the very nicely executed ending.
TITLE: Blind Chance (Przypadek)
DIRECTOR: Krzysztof Kieslowski
LANGUAGE: Polish | COUNTRY: Poland
YEAR: 1987 (Filmed in 1982 but suppressed)
PROFILE: Drama | 124 minutes | IMDb (7.9)
SYNOPSIS (Courtesy of IMDb): Witek runs after a train. Three variations follow on how such a seemingly banal incident could influence the rest of Witek’s life.
Strengths and Weaknesses: Although the film is nominally about the different life courses of our protagonist Witek, it’s true focus is on the petty but insidious oppressions of the Polish police state. A worthy subject, but the story line is often labored, and several scenes — particularly in the overly long first segment — feel stilted now.
Kieslowski has a good and useful point to make here: Whatever path Witek takes, he’s ruined each time by the corrosive control of the Communist Party. It doesn’t matter if he joins the Party or opposes the Party or ignores the Party — true autonomy and escape are impossible. What’s unfortunate is that he doesn’t bring more narrative energy to the story itself.
If Kieslowski had interwoven Witek’s three life variations instead of presenting them sequentially, the film would have had much more energy. As it is, the story endures listless patches where we become impatient for something surprising to happen and for the next variation to kick in. Only in the concluding moments does Kieslowski take full advantage of the premise. (It feels a bit like a first draft of the conclusion to his final film, Three Colors: Red).
Characters/Performances: Boguslaw Linda does a fine job as Witek, though it took me a while to warm to him. Considering that he’s the center of the entire film, Witek remains a fairly bland presence — there’s not quite enough vitality to the role of charisma in the performance to maintain strong engagement.
Best Moment: The final act is the film’s best, and Kieslowski shows a lot of brio in the concluding moment. It’s not enough to make up for the drab storytelling that precedes it, but the scene does unite the three threads well.
File Under: alternate paths, police state, communism, true love