The Double Life of Véronique

The Double Life of Véronique ★★★½

So, I finally made it; I watched the whole of Veronique. For the uninitiated, it’s a nebulous tale of love and connectedness that weaves its narrative in-between some gorgeous cinematography and a wide-eyed and charming performance from Irene Jacob.

There’s an almost immeasurable amount of loveliness in this film; it starts by making you gaze on Jacob’s beauty until you’re invested in her by sheer dint of her innocent and wide-eyed wonder at the world. Her beautiful singing, the way she faces the world without trepidation or regret, it’s all immensely appealing.

In fact, all the ciphers in the film are wonderfully presented: the orchestration and the marionettes are just incredible; ineffable representations of life and its affirmation. Everything is full of passion and joy, even the sad events.

And yet, for me the film’s reach slightly exceeds its grasp. The issue is substance: Kieslowski whips up an airy concoction full of green and gold effulgence, but it’s predicated on Veronique/Weronika’s charm and grace alone. This eidolon wafts past, elusive and bright, but in its own private bubble of non-personality. Beauty and innocence is worshipped and adored, but such perfection is ultimately without depth – flaws and failings temper a character and give them dimension, and we’re denied this progression.

The Double Life of Veronique, then, is one of the brightest and most hopeful films probably ever made and a huge success on its own terms. I can’t help feeling it lacks a personal, characterful dimension that would have elevated it to a level closer to perfection, but it’s certainly a luminescent and pleasant dream to experience whilst it lasts.