The Double Life of Véronique

The Double Life of Véronique ★★★★

Watched as part of my September 2021 Challenge.

A film from the 1990s

"Not long ago, I had a strange sensation. I felt that I was alone. All of a sudden. Yet nothing had changed."

The need for belonging, intimacy, and connection is listed among the 5 levels of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. As social creatures, we need that sense of belonging and acceptance among our peers and loved ones. Not achieving it, can result in feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. That's the feeling that overwhelms Véronique at one moment in this beautiful Kiéslowski film.

The Double Life of Véronique follows two identical women: Weronika and Véronique (both played by Irène Jacob) who have a mysterious connection, despite living separate lives in different cities. They've never met each other or known about the other's existence, and yet, there is something that binds them.

The interesting thing is that Kiéslowski is not very interested in the the why, but rather in how that connection affects them. As the film moves through the life of both women, we see a wide array of "connective tissue" that goes from their love of music to little things like a transparent ball that both of them play with. At one point, Véronique even dreams of a "tall, slender church", which we see is close to Weronika's home.

The thing is that the slightest hint of this connection gives both characters feelings of joy when it's felt, and loneliness when it's broken. For Weronika, seeing that "other person" in the distance instills her with a sense of belonging. For Véronique, who hasn't seen Weronika, although the connection is not clear and her feelings are more confused, it is still a source of anxiety and question.

At one point, Véronique attends a puppet show at her school. But during the show, her eyes move towards the side of the stage, where a mirror allows her to get a glimpse of what's going on behind the stage; the puppeteer pulling the strings. This sight intrigues her more than what's happening on stage, and she eventually tries to reach out to this man for reasons she doesn't fully understand.

Much like Weronika, who seemed to feel reinvigorated once she saw her "double", a signal perhaps that something beyond our comprehension is going on "behind the stage", Véronique's quest to find this puppeteer is a representation of that same desire to understand that something, anything, is going on "behind the stage". That even though nothing has changed, we are not alone.

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