The Double Life of Véronique

The Double Life of Véronique ★★★★½

PTAbro's World Tour Stop 10: Poland

Colors and reflections. Ghosts and puppets. Dreams and death. Sight and touch. Song and dance. A rich tapestry of obfuscated reality, of imagined lives, both present and afar. Who are we? Where are we? Why are we? Is any of it real? If it is, how real is it?

The Double Life of Véronique is a question of identity, of how much our "I" belongs to other people. Of how much of "them" resides in us. Are we puppets of a loving caretaker, playing our parts for his celestial audience? Or are we the music-makers, who guide his hands to protect us from harm, who demand from him a safety net of human consciousness in the wide collective of society? Our minds assume that what we perceive with our eyes exists in front of us, can be touched, loved, discarded, or absorbed. Kieślowski examines here the unseen perceptions, the shared mind, the human condition not contained in this physical shell. We are one through many.

In the spectacular doc included with the Criterion Blu-Ray, Kieślowski - Dialogue, the man himself states that the theme of this film is "live more carefully." Our connections, like dominoes, or ripples on a lake, amplify every action - we are the butterflies on the other side of the world, the hurricane resounding from our every thought, action, dream, and desire. Where the eye of that hurricane will center, from our neighbor to the ends of the earth, can never be predicted, but what we can be certain of is that the rain will come; yes indeed, the rain will come.

The Double Life of Véronique is a gorgeous dream. Kieślowski and cinematographer Sławomir Idziak attempt to capture the private moments of a life (lives), and the unfilmable emotions behind it (them). Véronique/Weronika are the same person, split; two bodies living separately but sharing a mind and heart in secret (from themselves). It is a concept I cannot grasp, an idea that reverses, flips, and spins in my mind, and I realize I am no puppeteer, no conductor. I am the audience, entranced, absorbing this make-believe, this idea without words, this melody in a foreign tongue. The meaning flits at the front of my mind, the tip of my tongue, brushes my fingertips, and dances away again. A hundred viewings and I would be no closer to unlocking the secret meaning. Here, on screen, is an unnameable truth, a passing touch, a taunt to the heart and mind. "Catch me if you can, I am everywhere at once."

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