The Double Life of Véronique

The Double Life of Véronique ★★★★★


Back in March, when I was a young and lowly Letterboxder, I discovered a film that instantly captured my attention and instantly entered my top ten (at the time, it was my fourth favourite film). I was not a confident reviewer back then (I say that as if I am now...) and I would write a line or two with my logs just as a bookmark for some thoughts. In that first review, or summation of my thoughts and feelings, I simply claimed how I was "in love with this film" and how it was "completely and utterly enchanting." Looking back on it, I thought I could do much better, I could really write something great about this film, but, here I am, thinking I couldn't get more accurate than my first attempt.

Part of the reason I picked The Double Life of Véronique as my first film to lead a discussion on for Sound of Vision was that I wanted to rewatch it. I remember watching it for the first time like it was yesterday and I remember the feeling that came with it; complete and utter enchantment, as I stated. I didn't know why, I didn't really know what it was about it that captured my attention and held it as tightly as it did and I wanted to see if my fellow co-hosts could pinpoint exactly what it is about the film that makes it so attractive.

Although my second viewing didn't reveal the answers, I feel I am viewing the reasons through thick fog, that they are there, but I can't quite make them out. On the other hand, there is a part of me that believes a large portion of it is the fact that the ambiguity of the piece contributes to its own fog that the audience is shrouded in as the story progresses. Like the love of my life, Mulholland Drive, there is part of me that refuses to reason with the film or attempt to make sense of it, wanting to see it as an exploration rather than one solid thing. There certainly are messages within it that Kieślowski wanted to convey, but none of them, to me at least, define it; the closest I could come to defining it would be to say that it is a presentation of morals and ideologies to be interpreted by the viewer, morals and ideologies that first have to be found and deciphered in the beautifully cryptic landscape of this piece of cinema.

I know that I am fascinated by the inner workings of the film, including its themes of performance and that theme's relativity to life itself. I'm intrigued by the puppets and the context in which they are presented, especially so towards the end, in ways that suggest the whole of the narrative prior to that moment could just be representations of the thought processes of an artist, or, more generally, a self-critical mind. Kieślowski's insertions of repeating images and repeating colours creates a sense of a puzzle that needs solving, something that my brain cannot resist. The presentation of objects in pairs, including the puppets; the singers; even the smallest things, like the apologies of the waitress at the train station's cafe; and, of course, my favourite image in the entire film, the ball, often displayed in a way that only two stars are visible inside it, one red, one green: the two main colours used in the palette of the film.

It's those two colours that perfect the film in my eyes, not only turning a generic urban landscape into something full of new wonder and freshness but also giving everything a sense of importance. It's the reds and greens that tie everything together, they're complimentary colours that coexist, separating everything, creating two sides of the same life that somehow exist harmoniously. It's also the red that seems to tie Véronique and Weronika together, being the colour they surround themselves in, whilst existing in a world tinged in green.

I can't yet make complete sense of this film, but I realise that it is something special. I realise that it has me hypnotised and that it isn't likely to ever let go. The Double Life is a mystery that I am willing to let linger, a mystery that I will fondly return to with awe and admiration.

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