The Double Life of Véronique

The Double Life of Véronique ★★★★½

"Each of us is matched somewhere in the world, by our exact double – someone who shares our thoughts and dreams."

Even after having seen just three of Kieslowski's films, it is no stretch to discover the importance music has for his style of filmmaking. Similarly to Three Colors: Blue, The Double Life of Véronique uses music as an anchor to find meaning and fulfillment in the lives of the two protagonists. And it is not just music in the sense of the score that plays during each scene; it is music in the sense of an integral element that gives Weronika and Véronique a chance to express themselves, to find joy and purpose.

But in The Double Life of Véronique, that source of joy and purpose comes crashing down. These two souls realize, in very different, yet entirely the same ways that music is not what is destined to determine their fate in a positive way. Which leads Kieslowski, and thus the audience, to the film's central question, which surrounds the illusion of free will.

And Kieslowski begs to question, is anything we do really determined by our own free will? Or are we shaped by our surroundings, by the things that catapult us into certain situations, manipulated into stepping on certain paths we would not have pursued if we truly acted according to our will? Do we only think that we are free to choose, when the choice has already been made for us? Kieslowski does not answer this question; it's free to determine for each viewer on their own. I am sure some like to interpret this as a metaphor for a godly presence directing us, others ponder about what binds our free will and keeps it from being expressed in its primal form, and whether that can be evaluated as a negative or positive thing.

The thing is, however, that Kieslowski only gives us the ingredients. He stated multiple times that he did not like discussing meaning, for everyone derives their own interpretation from any given film. But what he does give us is so detailed, intimate and profound that it will doubtlessly linger in your mind long after having seen it. Moreover, this film is empowered by a deeply thoughtful and magnetic performance by Irène Jacob, the vigorous musical score and the beautifully organic and lush cinematography that revels in its shades of green and yellow. An unforgettable experience.

1991 Ranked
Krzysztof Kieslowski's Films Ranked

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