The Double Life of Véronique

The Double Life of Véronique ★★★★½

Krzysztof Kieślowski and Irène Jacob are a winning combination. 3 years before the critically acclaimed “Three Colors: Red”, the duo made another enigmatic, poetic, and enchanting masterpiece called “The Double Life of Véronique”.

The film is a moving and artistically stunning meditation on chance, fate, free will, identity, life, death, love, loneliness, human connection, and the hidden links between people. Irène Jacob stars in a double role as the Polish choir singer Weronika and French music teacher Véronique. Both women look exactly the same and have similar dreams, but they don´t know each other and are not related in any way. This enigma and several other mysterious and surreal plot elements are not explained in the film, which only adds to its fascinating appeal. “The Double Life of Véronique” has an enormous emotional impact, though it´s difficult to put into words why exactly it has this effect. You feel it without fully understanding it.

At least I can try to analyze the movie´s emotionally powerful effect on me. One important factor is definitely Kieślowski´s meticulous direction and the rich symbolism he weaves into his film. Every shot and cut feels carefully thought-out and every small detail seems to have meaning.

Another factor is Irène Jacob´s mesmerizing performance. She is completely natural, vulnerable, tender, and beyond stunning. I couldn´t take my eyes off her. Weronika and Véronique are layered and deeply human characters, but they also have an angelic quality. Jacob is always beautiful, but the way Kieślowski directs and films her, her beauty feels almost otherworldly. The camera is in love with her and this love is infectious.

Besides Kieślowski and Jacob, the other MVPs are cinematographer Sławomir Idziak and composer Zbigniew Preisner. The enchanting stylized cinematography and fantastic use of colors and lighting combined with the wonderful music create a dreamlike ethereal atmosphere and a deep sense of contemplation and longing. The combination of image and sound alone is sufficient to evoke powerful emotions.

Krzysztof Kieślowski is clearly a master of subtle, profound, emotionally impactful, and aesthetically pleasing art films and this movie proves this once again. “The Double Life of Véronique” is an elusive, hypnotizing, and utterly spellbinding experience. I don´t know anything like it.

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