Cryptic smiles that fade to black: Julie Vignon

Published on 01/27/11 at 06:14:22 pm using 448 words.

Apart from the iconic images and moments bestowed on us by the arts in exchange for a reaction, and moments held up to our view like protest signs by majority rule in exchange for the blind sort of compliance that helps set icons to stone, there are the images and moments that grow modestly into personal icons in the confines of our psyches by virtue of their significance to us.

A certain brand of cinematic embrace has always ranked high for me in that respect. More on that here.

The expressions on the faces of characters beholding a movie screen and being helplessly swept by it have often struck a chord. (I’m currently working on a post of screencaps to pay tribute to my personal favorites.)

I’ve also consistently, in my movie-watching, music-listening experience, found myself excited to find unexpected swerves. The unexpected itself, provided it’s neither heavy-handed nor trite, will win me anytime. The last fifteen minutes of L’√©cole de la chair (The School of Flesh) breaking every clich√© on my checklist, comes right to mind. The songs Spies (Coldplay) and The Blower’s Daughter (Damien Rice), most poems by Dorothy Parker (which I touched on here) the little surprises and last minute deviations that teach us to commit to a chosen angle at our own risk. Things can go unexpectedly. Life will always have it in it to surprise us.

A new item to the list came up recently to join the hugs, the faces beholding a movie screen, the unexpected swerves… Cryptic smiles that fade to black. Yes, they’ve come to claim a spot on that very personal list of icons.

Far from full-blown smiles, these are subtle hints of better things to come. Smiles of the mysterious, fragile, broken, resigned, self-sufficient varieties.

Julie Vignon’s (Juliette Binoche) almost imperceptible quivering of lip corners is the perfect conclusion to a journey from loss to a semblance of freedom in the first installment of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s masterful Three Colors Trilogy. It is the perfect pit stop to let us off as witnesses to her struggle in adapting to overwhelming loss.

I love the smallness of her smile. The ambiguity of it. The mirage aspect of it. I love not quite knowing what I’m seeing really is there. The nuances of thirty seconds worth of sunrise, the coming blue, the softening of her gaze, the subtlety of being the same and yet not.

Click on the links for the second, third, fourth and fifth installments of the series.

Currently listening to…
Debussy - Claire de Lune

No feedback yet