This profoundly beautiful thriller is a strange hybrid, written by
Polish filmmaking maestro Kieslowski (with his writing partner
Piesiewicz) as the first episode in a Heaven, Hell and Purgatory
trilogy, but passed on to German director Tykwer (Run Lola Run) after
Kieslowski's sudden death in 1996, then filmed in Italy with Australian
and American stars.
Set in Turin, the story centres on British schoolteacher Philippa
(Blanchett), who in a moment of desperation plants a bomb in the office
of a businessman (Santospago). In the aftermath, she is arrested and
during interrogation her motives begin to become apparent, much to the
frustration of the Carbinieri in charge (Sbragia). But she's befriended
by her translator Filippo (Ribisi), who in a moment of selfless
compassion offers to help her.
Tykwer's film is thoroughly artistic as it builds suspense without ever
resorting to movie cliches or action formula. Everything is subtle and
understated, especially the way he creates unbearable tension in the set
pieces simply by letting us see what is at stake ... and then twisting
the knife in! This is augmented by the internal-combustion of Blanchett
and Ribisi, who create memorable characters who are so insular that when
they actually begin softening toward each other it's a wonder to watch.
And Kieslowski and Piesiewicz have crafted a fiercely intelligent script
examining issues of trust, redemption and justice from extremely
Yes, it's perhaps a little too symbolic and
meaningful, even in its tiny details and side characters. And it must be
said that, for all of Tykwer's skill, it would have been even more
exquisite under Kieslowski's direction. He is hugely missed, but it's
nice to see his legacy continue here.