Hayden Welch’s review published on Letterboxd:
”I feel that I’m not alone in this world.”
A sensual seductive mystery that feels structureless, flowing through its loose narrative admitting a very strong mood and atmosphere, The Double Life of Véronique is existentialism at its peak. Never does it feel self-loathing or dreary but rather a bittersweet melancholy. The atmosphere of The Double Life of Véronique is what brings this film from exceptional to flawless in my eyes; the sum of its parts an accumulation of mood. Krystof Kieślowski dealt with intense grief and confusion in my favorite entry to his career-defining trilogy Three Colors: Blue. However I’m glad this isn’t a retreading of that, the themes tackled are so similar but the approach and message are so different that, while you can tell he made both films they’re completely disconnected and unique experiences from one another.
Irène Jacob delivers one of the best performances I’ve had the privilege of seeing. It’s somehow so singular even after delving into two roles. It feels extremely reminiscent of Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive in terms of approach. There’s this genuine melancholic confusion and desperation in the climax that feels so earned thanks to the impeccable structure. There are many films that have extremely unearned emotional releases and this may be the best example of the opposite. There’s a clear through-line assisted by her transcendental performance that guides us through the more abstract bits of the film.
Much akin to the bookends of the Three Colors Trilogy The Double Life of Véronique gets everything across without feeling the need to speak. Reminiscent of the likes Trouble Every Day or Y Tu Mamá También as the film doesn’t feel the need to over-explain its point. It lures you with an operatic sense of the grandiose just to reel it back exquisitely into these intimate character-driven moments. The way these moments between Véronique and Alexandre are displayed are so different from every other seen. It’s a fly on the wall effect that feels so personal that you shouldn’t be watching.
The pacing is so unlike anything I’ve ever seen, an almost perfectly split, yet interwoven character web. The climax being reserved fo the final ten minutes, a strange and haunting conclusion that has a great deal of weight. This resonance is so well earned thanks to many aspects, but especially the structure and pace. The Double Life of Véronique has the same beats as a whodunnit, which makes the mystery all the more strange as that doesn’t encompass its plot at all.
In conclusion, there has never been something quite as focused and singular as The Double Life of Véronique for what it’s trying to accomplish. I only scratched the su rface of what this film entails, and it only gets stranger from here. The Double Life of Véronique is a quintessentially mystery, filled with as much lust as there is despair.