Sally Jane Black’s review published on Letterboxd:
I have not yet seen the rest of the Three Colors trilogy, so anything I write here is outside of that context.
I am afraid that freedom is a myth. Certainly, we are never free of the consequences of our actions, of our pasts. I wish it were otherwise, but I suspect there is no clean break from the past. Even if we move physically away, the emotional content of the past will linger. Kieslowski illustrates this in a more literal fashion, as Julie attempts to sever all her previous emotional connections--selling the house, trashing the compositions, breaking a heart, escaping into the maze of Paris--but somehow is tracked down by figures from before her grief and loss. The lingering emotional content is echoed in the blue bead decoration she carries with her, the last remnant of her past. The film is unsubtle in its symbolism, and unfortunately, it detracts a bit from the emotional impact of the film.
Still, as far as illustrating this idea goes, it does a decent job. It gets its point across, showing in montage at the end all the people affected by Julie, directly or indirectly, and her decisions and actions. Her existence has created a ripple effect, just as others' have done to her, and the illusion of emotional freedom is completely broken as the young prostitute or the kid who witnessed the car crash grapple with the circumstances created by Julie's touching their lives. Repeatedly, the film reminds us of our limitations, physically (the old woman shuffling slowly to the trash bin), emotionally (Julie failing to commit suicide; her sorta lover keeping the mattress), socially (the neighbors trying to oust the prostitute), creatively (the finishing of the composition; the street flutist), and more. The effect is smothering on multiple levels: the shackled feeling of consequence and emotional baggage pervades the film, but its ubiquity is an overwhelming stylistic choice that grates a little.
It feels like the use of color should be a noteworthy aspect of this film because it's right there in the title. Obviously, the French flag/motto symbolism is part of the basic set up of the film, but I felt like there had to be more to it. Unfortunately, I didn't spot a significant pattern. I assumed blue would correspond to moments of liberation or expressions of freedom, but it seemed to come up more often than that. Perhaps I just didn't pick up what Kieslowski was laying down, but with the blue crystal piece that Julie carries about, it felt like blue certainly had at least one connection to a chain rather than a liberation. Instead, what stood out were the blackout moments. At least thrice in the film, the screen fades to black, almost as if it were going to commercial break. It returns almost instantly as Julie makes a decision, it seems, and the conversation continues. These felt like much more significant moments. Julie takes a step toward some form of liberation, even if it is fleeting or illusory, actively coming to terms with what she is holding onto/what is holding onto her.
However, even those moments feel heavy handed. As richly depicted as the film is, with its dark scenery, striking close ups, and moments of blue light, it still feels like it's screaming its themes at me the whole time. On the other hand, if I'm wrong about those themes, complaining about how they're so loud will make me look doubly foolish. Here's to pressing "post" and finding out.