American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
The hero of "White" tries to make money by performing in the Paris Metro. But he is not a musician, and his instrument - a pocket comb with a sheet of paper folded over it - doesn't inspire many donations. He's reached the bottom of the barrel, this sad sack migrant from Poland whose beautiful wife has divorced him. And he is homesick. At last inspiration strikes. A friend is flying to Poland.
Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski) will ship himself home curled up inside the man's suitcase.
Is this possible? Better not to ask. The movie creates a great droll comic moment when the friend lingers at the baggage claim carousel in the Warsaw Airport until it becomes unmistakable that the luggage . . . has been lost. And then there is a scene showing that the missing suitcase, with Karol still inside, has been stolen.
Thieves open it, are bitterly disappointed to find only a man inside, and beat him. Then they cast him aside onto a rubbish heap. It is bitterly cold. Bloody but optimistic, he surveys the grim landscape and says, "Home at last." Depending on your state of mind, these events may sound funnier, or more painful, than they really are. Krzysztof Kieslowski directs "White" in a deadpan, matter-of-fact style that treats his strange subject matter as if it were merely factual. "White" is the middle film in his trilogy based on the colors of the French flag, coming between "Blue," which was about a woman coming to grips with the death of her husband, and the forthcoming "Red," about a woman whose accidental friendship with a judge leads to profound changes in her life. All of these films approach their subjects with such irony that we cannot take them at face value; "White" is the anti-comedy, in between the anti-tragedy and the anti-romance.