"Blue" is a sad but fascinating little treatise on grief, the story of a sophisticated woman attempting to deal with the loss of her husband and young daughter, who are killed in an automobile accident in the opening moments.

This event is filmed in a remote manner, emotionless and without music, which makes it all the more shattering for its silence and distance. Audience members immediately become aloof voyeurs, watching helplessly.

Binoche's survival of the accident that takes her loved ones adds a layer of guilt to her grief, and she spends much of the movie in a stupor, trying to make sense of her life. It's a difficult role, which Binoche pulls off by virtue of her enigmatic screen presence as much as her performance, relying heavily on expression rather than dialogue delivery.

As the film progresses we discover that Binoche's husband was a famous composer, whose work-in-progress, a concerto about the unification of Europe, hovers over the film and Binoche's character. It has long been rumored that Binoche herself might actually be the composer in the family, though her husband has taken credit.

When she returns home, however, Binoche destroys the unfinished work, arranges for the care of her invalid mother and flees to Paris, where she gets an apartment and ignores everyone from her past — including her lover, who was also her husband's best friend.

Soon, Binoche finds herself the voyeur, observing life from her apartment window but declining to get involved, even when her neighbors make overtures.

Eventually, however, she must confront her past, as she uncovers secrets about her husband's life and finds that a copy of the unfinished concerto still exists.

This brief plot description, however, does a disservice to the film itself, which relies heavily on imagery, color and both a classical score and deadly silence. Co-writer/di-rec-tor Krzysztof Kieslowski has made an artistic film that paints human emotions in an unusual way, and while it occasionally becomes somewhat pretentious, the film is largely successful in its effort.

But there is no denying that Binoche's contribution is what gives the film its punch, proving that her unique screen presence was no fluke in "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" and "Damage."

"Blue," though unrated, would doubtless get an R for violence, sex, nudity and profanity.