The Double Life of Véronique

The Double Life of Véronique ★★★★

Oh so close to being a 4.5. This is my second Kieślowski, the first was Blue, which I honestly didn't care for too much, and kind of turned me off from wanting to see more of his films, but I think the unique approach Véronique takes, has got me excited to not only revisit and finish the Three Colors, but also dive into Dekalog. This isn't going to be an easy film to write about, because all of it's qualities are in it's filmic language, that can't be translated into words. I actually want to read the script, because I'm curious how Kieślowski would try and communicate these ideas verbally. The film is very fragmented, never following standard narrative, and instead just glimpses of moments that are deemed important for a variety of reasons. The mise en scène, lighting, and camerawork, are telling a story, more than character interactions/dialogue exchanges.

While watching this, I found myself completely invested with the minimalist story. Not too much actually happens, nor are the depths explored in either Weronika or Véronique, but this is a true testament to both Kieślowski's power as a director, and Irène Jacob, as an actress. Both are operating on an extremely high level of skill, that it's enough to make an engaging film experience. Kieślowski is definitely operating in the omnipresent God-like approach to directing, which is perfectly in-tune with the story (Alexandre is clearly his catalyst). He makes the small moments seem large, and also minimizes the big moments. He communicates the story through mood, and feeling, and tries to draw connectivity through these techniques, that relate characters, time, space, and even the politics of different countries. It's a very cosmic approach to a very personal story, and he tows the line with ease, never letting anything seem out of place. Irène Jacob plays both roles with such a quiet reservation; it's refreshing to see an Actor rely on their facial expressions to communicate emotion. She's got a very powerful screen presence that I found myself completely glued to her for the entirety of the film. It's clear from the earliest scenes that she's willing to be completely vulnerable, and that is the best quality any actor can have. I kept getting vibes echoed of Maria Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc, though outside of that choir scene in the rain, I couldn't tell you why (maybe because that was the introduction to Weronika, and that mood carried through the entire film).

When the mid-way switch happened, I found myself along for the ride, and it wasn't really until Alexandre became an active character in the story, not just an outside entity, that I started to question the purpose of this mystic tale. It was then that I kind of realized the weightlessness of the tale, and started to disengage slightly. Of course, after some thought, the purpose started to funnel in, and I appreciated it all, from beginning to end, even if it left me feeling a little underwhelmed. This movie is not Primer (only reason I bring this up is because it was the movie I watched before this - otherwise, there is clearly no comparison), being that, I don't think there's some solvable puzzle about the mysteries of the universe. Kieślowski isn't trying to be an investigator, instead, a thoughtful observer to the subtle nuances of life's magic that we can never truly explain. Why do people feel connected to each other? Why do we have a double somewhere in the world? What does any of this mean? Do we have purpose? Do we have choice? Is life pre-determined? Weronika is a victim of fate, whilst Véronique is more a victim of chance. What's worse; one life controlled by an unseen entity, or one life controlled by a harmful novelist? Or maybe, they both had control and never seized it?

It's definitely a thought-provoking and interesting picture I know I will return to some day. I really admire the fearlessness of including political allegories in films; one of my favorite things about the medium. I'd be a liar if I said I understood it all though, but it was clear Kieślowski had a very personal message to deliver, and upon further research, the resounding effects of the film are powerful and vital.

It's hard to talk about. It's a gorgeous movie. Definitely check it out.

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