The Double Life of Véronique

The Double Life of Véronique ★★★½

Film #62 that was recommended to me -- feel free to add to the list! (Recommended by CINEMANICK)

I have an odd relationship with the films of Kieślowski. Having seen the Three Colors trilogy and now this, I've yet to dislike anything of his, and have even given some quite high ratings and glowing reviews. But you know that sort of awe-inspiring feeling you get when you think about your favorite directors, that sort of love for art and the capacities of people to express the inexpressible, to be truly captivating? It's just not there. I think about Kieślowski, my brain goes "He's surely one of the best!" but the thought just sits there, inert. I don't think my opinions are changing -- I imagine a rewatch of Three Colors: Blue would reveal it to be every bit as great as it once was. It's just that the complicated feeling I've had to grapple with is I'm not sure how much I care that it's great. I watch these films, having a damn good time... and then I move on.

So why is that? I dunno, I'm probably broken. More seriously, my best guess is that Kieślowski can totally evoke the experience he intended, even in a philistine like myself, and when they work, these experiences are impossible to feel indifferent about. There's an earnest exploration of existing as a person in this world within each of his films. What he does is just not quite what ultimately gets me coming back to movies like I do. I hate to make overarching taste statements because they will always have 100 glaring exceptions, but as a general rule, I love my art messy. I have a deep respect for people who go out, take huge risks you probably shouldn't, and then either create something fantastic that no one ever has or an unwatchable mess. There's something about Kieślowski's style that's too... I don't know, self-consciously meticulous? I recognize that he's in reality taking quite a few risks (more on that specific to this film later), he's not actually derivative, and that I'm approaching sounding like I'm dismissively saying "Oh the man just chooses to do everything right all the time, how boring and predictable," haha. I just think there's some sort of aura about these movies, something a little too high class and sophisticated for what really moves me. It's so laser-focused on being smart and beautiful that I lose track of its soul. Yet, unlike a lot of lesser movies, I know the soul is absolutely intact. I'm just bouncing off of it. Strange feeling. Do keep in mind I'm working backwards and applying this rationalization to a nebulous feeling I have and not the other way around, though. To a degree, I'm straining myself to make sense of it.

That said, The Double Life of Veronique is a gorgeous film. I adore the choice to wash every image in yellow and green, giving it a distinct look virtually no other movie has. Irene Jacob gives a perfect performance as two different women, both of whom carry most of the film because the entire depth of meaning and emotion is usually in their smallest movements or facial expressions. And again, The Double Life of Veronique really is daring. Its plot is subtle and neither explained nor truly connected for us. Two women go through their lives while feeling an indescribable, irrational connection. They feel each other's existence on the most subconscious level. It's more a film about mood than events, though that's not to say that nothing occurs.

I had a great time while watching this, and I'd be happy to see it again any time. I'll always think of it as a great film, and of Kieślowski as a great director. It's just that, while others seem to praise the intangibility of this film for haunting them through images, I feel the exact opposite. On the day following my viewing, the film has escaped me. As much as I liked it, I'm no different for having seen it, and have to chase down thoughts about it to drive it back into my mind. And that's where I seem to land on this director as a whole. He has incredible talent, but there are directors with half his skill who stick with me far more. It's not you, it's me, probably.

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