The Double Life of Véronique

The Double Life of Véronique ★★★★½

Sometimes a film doesn't need to be flowing in dialogue or narrative in order to elicit sensations out of its audience. Rather, sometimes a director is able to achieve the most organic emotional reactions through their control over the senses, utilizing visuals and sound to gain the response they desire. Krzysztof Kieslowski has proven himself a master of this approach, with his film The Double Life of Veronique, a dreamlike entry into the soul of the viewer. From the moment we open on star Irene Jacob's radiant face as she sings her heart out while rain begins to pour down, this is a film that really hits you like a beam of light.

The basic narrative centers around two women who are separate yet somehow linked; Weronika is a singer in Poland and Veronique is a teacher in Paris. The two women have never met yet they are identical in physical appearance and somehow there is a thread that flows between them, much in the same way that all themes can be universal. Kieslowski doesn't present their similarities as a means to structure his film as some sort of Hitchcockian mystery, but rather as an interesting observation on our connections with humankind. Instead, he is more focused on that gorgeous sensation he sets out to achieve, utilizing a breathtaking score to enrapture his audience while they remain transfixed on the golden-tinted visuals that are captured on screen.

This is a film built very much as an exploration of the senses and what he is able to achieve here is beautiful and remains strongly in tact after the film has ended. He creates that sensation inside of the viewer that grows deeper and more expansive as the film goes on, and is then left to resonate when the end credits roll and well afterward. In casting the dual role of his leading ladies, there could have been no finer choice than that of Irene Jacob. Kieslowski would use her again to great results in the more dialogue-and-narrative-driven Three Colors: Red a few years later, but here Jacob is left open to the audience in a more natural way and it is so incredible to watch. You can tell right away that the camera loves her, the way that it captures her natural beauty and grace, and it makes it so easy for the audience to fall in love with her all the same.

Jacob is left open on screen, physically and emotionally, and through her remarkably expressive face she illuminates this picture in a way that no other actress would have been able to achieve. Kieslowski and Jacob do something remarkably unique with The Double Life of Veronique, by creating a mood that sticks with you and doesn't hinge its emotional impact on the more conventional aspects that you'd expect it to. This is a journey that aims for the heart rather than the mind, and ends up taking you to some place new and beautiful, if it hits you in the same way that it did me. Whether it does or not, it's certainly a journey worth exploring.

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