The Double Life of Véronique

The Double Life of Véronique

As indebted to experimental cinema as to the lush Euro art market of the 80s and 90s, The Double Life of Véronique is the only film in Krzysztof Kieślowski’s high auteurist period that isn’t part of a cycle, or paired with a companion film. In part, that’s because it’s already a bit like two films – the opening half-hour, in which we’re introduced to Veronika (Irene Jacob), an aspiring musician living between Warsaw and Krakow, and the following hour, in which the focus shifts to Véronique (also played by Jacob), a disenchanted music teacher living in Paris. However, these short films about Veronika and Véronique don’t really proceed in a sequential way, or feel designed to be seen separately, partly because the film itself is about Veronika and Véronique’s gradual apprehension that they are somehow bound up with each other’s lives, despite the fact that they’ve never met or even been aware of each other’s existence before this strange sense of synchronicity starts to descend upon them. As their sense of connection starts to coalesce around each other, both become certain that they are not alone, certain that they are occupying two places at once, or at least sharing every space they traverse with another consciousness. Following them as they set out to feel their way across the peculiar contours of that connectivity in an elusive journey that takes them through a panorama of early 90s Paris and Krakow, Kieślowksi’s camera also starts to feel as if it is occupying two spaces at once, or at least as if it’s never fully occupying the space where it appears to be, creating odd twilit zones in which the cinematography seems to be absorbing some of its spectra from elsewhere, like a brain that’s started to overcompensate for incomplete sleep with waking dream-work. In between those liquid zones, the quotidian Parisian and Polish spaces where Véronique and Veronika find temporary harbour start to feel like analog islands in a sea of space-time, the only spaces where space is still singular, repositories of local realism that seem almost stranger and more unsettling than the queasy colour thresholds that propel both Veronika and Véronique into one quantum entanglement after another. As that might suggest, images, let alone language, start to feel inadequate, as Kieślowksi turns to music to capture this dawning experience of other voices, of a whole collective simultaneous world out there, poised somewhere between post-communist Poland and socialist France, and not dissimilar to the joys and sorrows of Three Colors: Blue. Refracting light across a strange new musical stave of his own, his harmonies and dissonances are so unusual and ethereal that it almost feels as if you have to be watching the two parts of film side by side to really hear them, as Véronique and Veronika vibrate in such perfect unison that a second screen almost emerges just to sustain them.

www.afilmcanon.com/films/2014/11/11/kieslowksi-la-double-vie-de-veronique-the-double-life-of-ver.html