The Double life of Véronique

The Double life of Véronique (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1991)

Two parallel stories about two identical women; one living in Poland, the other in France. They don't know each other, but their lives are nevertheless profoundly connected.

I have recently written a lot about the fact that I don’t really get Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s films with my ventures in the short films about killing and love. I also watched many years ago the Three Colors trilogy. All of this without really being impressed or connected to his body of work.  However, as a duty and a curiosity, I digged into The Double Life of Véronique knowing it was another crowd pleaser by the late master.

The idea of the duality and the many mysteries left with the story are interesting and they may connect some points together with a short story I wrote almost twenty years ago. Yes, I wrote short stories but never made a living out of it. But I digress. The haunting presence of Irene Jacob is maybe one of the most impressive aspects of Véronique/Weronika. Paired with the impressive yet ethereal cinematoraphy by Slawomir Idziak that reveals a warm and gloomy dream-like winter in Europe. Worth the mention, the music by long time collborator to Kieslowski Zbigniew Preisner and his superb score.

But with all that said, The Double Life of Véronique left me with too many unanswered questions and many empty but beautiful frames of a pretty woman in an identity crisis. Beyond that, Kieslowski works like Wong Kar-Wai as he is relegating on impressions and feelings more than storytelling and mise en scène. This is much closer to a piece of art than a piece of film. The purpose may be the same in both cases but the payoff and media not. In films, we can be more critical about some aspects of a piece of art and Kieslowski tries too hard to be an artist and make art than to be a film director and make an art film. There’s almost no difference, in fact it is a slight difference between the two but very important in this case.

The Double Life of Véronique has redeeming aspects and is true to Kieslowski’s filmography. It is also in direct connection with my difficulty to connect with its director’s films.

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