The Double Life of Véronique

The Double Life of Véronique ★★★★★

Roughly halfway through my debut screening of The Double Life of Veronique, I noticed a reasonably large spider crawling up my leg. I was more annoyed that I missed a minute of this masterpiece while killing it than I was grossed out by the fact that such a thing was actually occurring.

I hit the rewind button and went back, assuring myself that I didn't miss anything, but that isn't really the point. That god damn arachnid ruined the flow of the experience, and I hope it burns in spider hell for it. This film, made by Krzysztof Kieslowski (who I now after only one film assume is a genius, and I must seek out and experience more of his work), is a work of art. I didn't understand what was happening some of the time, and I don't think I want to fully grasp every second of it. I felt like I was listening to someone read a mind melting perfect poem, one that I became personally and emotionally connected to even though I wasn't sure why.

The Double Life of Veronique tells the stories of two different women who are seemingly exactly the same, including their appearance. Their paths cross only once, very briefly, and the look on the face of Weronika when she spotted her double made me question how I would feel in that moment. I mean, how surreal would it be to see your exact twin, one that you never knew existed and, as far as you know, you share no actual relation with? Would you, could you even believe your own eyes?

I wonder if someone else on our planet looks, acts, even feels just like me. If he does exist, I wonder what he is doing right now. Who does he love, how much pain does he feel, what does he do each day? Perhaps this exact replica of me lived before me, a part of the history of human life before I ever came to be. Perhaps he will live many years from now, well after I have left my mark on this earth. Seems strange to question such things, I know, but that's what this film did for me. It invoked a curiosity and wonder in me that I rarely if ever tap into, and I loved it.

When Weronika collapses on stage after singing so beautifully, so uniquely, Veronique feels a sense of sadness as she lives her life a great distance away from where the tragedy took place. She feels as if she is grieving, and I have felt something similar to this before. A feeling that I couldn't quite put my finger on, but deep down I could tell something bad had happened, something that felt eerily dreadful and cold. I would snap out of it shortly after and move on with my life, but now I wonder what truly occupied those moments in time. Were they merely a part of me feeling a brief subconscious angst, something fleeting and unimportant, or was I feeling a connection to another person who was suffering somewhere far away from me?

Sounds rather far fetched to consider the second option. Even I don't believe it as I am typing this. It's 3:45 in the morning and I feel oddly high despite consuming no alcohol, no drugs. The Double Life of Veronique is as intoxicating and thought provoking as anything I have ever put in my body, the work of an artist with a vision and a blank canvas to paint it on. Cinematography as beautiful as I have seem, each frame filled with interesting shades of green and red and the yellow of the skin of the people that fill it. A performance by Irene Jacob as both main characters that can't really be put into words, as it is just so stunning it is as if she was born for this role. A score so sweeping and beautiful, it almost transported me off of my couch and brought me into the film, as if I was living the story first hand.

A lot of films come and go, entering and exiting my mind so quickly that regardless of how enjoyable they were the first time around, they won't be keeping me up at night. I can't imagine I will ever fully let go of this film, forcing myself to ask the question of when I will see it again, not if. Hopefully the answer is soon.

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