The Double Life of Véronique

The Double Life of Véronique ★★★★★


Hauntingly beautiful, Kieślowski's "The Double Life of Veronique" is a sublime poetic journey through the eyes of two women, one Polish and one French, who, despite not knowing one another, sense a deep connection between themselves that transcends time and distance. As they go about their regular lives amidst bouts of soul-searching, the audience is led on a captivating journey, with a slight sense of the supernatural, by the master known as Krzysztof Kieślowski. It is poetic in the truest sense, relying on images that can't be turned into prosaic statements without losing something of their essence.

In Poland, a little girl is shown the stars in the winter sky by her mother, who identifies the Christmas Eve star. In France, a little girl is shown one of the first leaves of spring by her mother, who points out the fine veins running through. Thus, within the first couple of minutes of the film, we are drawn into a mystical world and hinted at the idea lying at the very heart of the film- two separate women, in separate countries, somehow joined by an invisible string. Veronica is a Polish woman who lives her life on a plane above the mundane- unlike her peers, she doesn't run for cover at the first drop of rain but stays long enough to complete the final note of her song. Despite encountering a flasher by the roadside, she hardly seems to notice, or care. Veronique is a music teacher in France who, after witnessing a puppet show, is mysteriously drawn to the showmaster.

Like the typical Kieślowski film, the film greatly uses colour, sound and symbolism to present it's ideas. Instead of being expressed explicitly in words, emotions are rather evoked through art. A huge part of the film is it's background score which serves a dual function- it takes shape as an important plot device, connecting the worlds of the two women and also provides the perfect setting for the mystical events about to unfold, elevating the film to levels far beyond which it might have been at without the score. The symbolism is subtle yet not so complex as in Trois Couleur- Veronique immediately quitting her music lessons, after we are shown Veronica's death while pursuing music; Veronique stretching out the shoelace straight over her EKG graph, where a straight line represents death; the second puppet that Fabbri makes which lies lifeless as Veronique plays with the other et cetera et cetera et cetera and many more such novelties.

Also worth praising is the cast- Kieślowski skilfully uses actors and actresses with sharp facial features that serve as a medium of expression often greater than spoken dialogue or action. The camera, therefore, rightfully lingers on on faces at key transitional moments of the film. But probably the greatest aspect of the filmmaking effort would be the achingly majestic cinematography. Take a bow Sir Slawomir Idziak! Using a rich palette of reds and blues and greens, he effectively manages to underline all other colours as well as setting the perfect mood and tone for each scene to develop.

For me this is even better than the Colour Trilogy, popularly considered to be Kieślowski's magnum opus. While it possesses the same degree(if not more) of beauty and artfulness as the trilogy, it is much more subtle, relatable and accessible than the latter. The film is drawn to coincidence and synchronicity. Little interested in focusing on a character hurtling from point X in the first act to Point Z in the third, it is rather fascinated by Point Y, and the unseen threads linking it to past and present. It's truly a transcendental experience having almost a hypnotic effect. It has shot straight to my Favourites lists and singlehandedly taken Kieślowski there too, somewhere very close to the summit.