The Double Life of Véronique

The Double Life of Véronique ★★★★½

Krzysztof Kieslowski crafts dreams for films. He's really, really good at it. Here, in his precursor to (or so it felt) the Three Colors trilogy, it's all colors and sounds. There's a world here - a story, apparently, unfolding almost wordlessly before our eyes - yet Kieslowski would have us 'feel' rather than 'follow'. He wants to thrust the very psyche of Irene Jacob (in a performance you could only hope for) upon us in provocative and occasionally uncomfortable ways, so that before the end we feel what she feels, see what she sees and experience her world in greens, reds and yellows.

A world devoid of Blue.

Merely an aesthetic choice? Perhaps. Or maybe, because Kieslowski appreciates colors and their psychological importance so much that he structures the themes of entire films around them, the fact that there's no blue in Veronique's life is actually a revealing element of her emotional state of mind.

I offer no scientific or psychological interpretations as 'what' exactly that might be. All I can say is that it 'felt' quite.. bleak. Sickening, even.

Blue is a color of rich intensity, of emotional warmth (though not literal warmth). Kieslowski himself proved this in his next film. We like blue. A rich blue sky makes us comfortable to be living on this planet. Water tinted blue triggers our appreciation for health and life. It's probably safe to say that blue gives off more 'positive' vibes than, say, yellow, a color by which the sky itself has been painted in this film.

All that to say (I'll spare everyone my painfully un-scientific analysis), Veronique's world is one of extreme uncertainty and, frankly, nausea. In the end.. well, what exactly happens in the end? Love? An understanding of connection?

Next time I come back to this, I'll be more fascinated by the themes of puppetry that continually pop up. Is Kieslowski telling us that Veronique's life is not her own? That, by some twisted scheme of either fate or coincidence, she is cursed with an emotional attachment to a doppelganger who dies half way through, and her emotional life is forever broken and incomplete?

My spirits need lifting. I think I'll have to find a film with a complete color palette next time.

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