The Double Life of Véronique

The Double Life of Véronique ★★★

I generally can't get down with films like this. Maybe it's a product of my inattentive teenage consciousness, but if a film wants me to feel a certain way just through some dreamlike visuals and sound cues, I can't do it. My brain is hard-wired to focus on things, seek out patterns, make connections. That's how I enter the story. That's how I build the bridge between myself and the characters/events on screen. If I am not given anything to work with for an extended period of time, I get bored very easily. With Kieślowski's Three Colors trilogy, despite those films still being rather elliptical and ambiguous, there is always a story being threaded together. With that story comes concrete characters and a whole world made up of them, other threads to sew together and make something out of it all, even if it's not anything you could put into words. There's always something to lead the viewer on, with each new moment being discovered with a fresh, conscientious gaze.

The Double Life of Véronique surely can't be put into words, and for me that's mostly due to the fact that I already don't remember what happened. Certain scenes stick out to me, particularly in the way they're lit and edited. I can't tell if everything happened too quickly or too slowly for me to process. Like in his other films there is a strong sense of longing or anxiety happening, and I like how in the first half hour it feels like the main character is constantly on edge, waiting for something to happen, for some random chance of fate to occur. That tension is something that interests me a lot, but spread out that feeling for too long (like, say, 98 minutes?) and it loses the same effect. It's not really that anything can be cut down or shortened, as Kieślowski seems very intentional with what he puts on the screen. But... what?

There is no core to the film, at least a core of things I typically find appealing in stories. Everything is kind of nebulous and klunky, which, once again, is clearly purposeful. However any individual aspect of the film (save Irene Jacob's performance, perhaps) cannot be appreciated on its own merit, nor can the sum of all these parts really be understood at all. It's like falling into a bottomless pit. Kieślowski doesn't allow me to latch onto anything, which is such a frustrating experience for me as the kind of viewer who needs to know SOMETHING about what I'm seeing. A common theme, a metaphor, a change of character, a deliberate object being passed around, a phrase, a framing device—please!

There is no catharsis, but did there really need to be? Am I just an incompetent, soulless audience member? Is Kieślowski just screwing with me? Why is everything colored yellow? Why is there a shoelace? Was the shoelace important? Am I going insane?


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