Sunday, 31 July 2011

The Double Life of Veronique

This film presents a tour-de-force performance form Irene Jacob in the lead double role of Weronika/Veronique. I'm a huge fan of Kieslowski but I struggled with this one - it's difficult to get your head around it. Nevertheless it presents interesting things to reflect on.

The central theme is that two identical Veroniques, born on the same day - one Polish, one French, both with an identical heart condition and the same great operatic singing voice. The first third of the film follows Weronika as she begins to make it big-time in singing. Walking across a square she spots a doppelganger amongst a group of French tourists taking photos of a political demo as their tour bus leaves the square. The middle third introduces us to the Parisian Veronique who, on health grounds gives up her musical career. The final third explores Veronique's interaction and response to a secret admirer who makes and performs with marionettes.

Perhaps it is the puppets that provide the key to unlock the story as notions of free-will, intuition and fate interplay to weave a story which Kieslowski asserts is all about emotions. I find this odd - not that the film is lacking in emotional content - far from it, but it seemed to me more a film about identity and developing a notion of self. Both Veronicas felt they were never alone - in a way sensing the existence of the other. When Weronika dies, Veronique awakes from her sleep suddenly to underline the connectedness between the two girls. Veronique's world begins to unravel when her admirer points out Weronika on a set of contact photos and she feels despairing as her admirer becomes her lover. An odd and jerky transition.

The second disc interviews throw little illumination on the plot and the web provides even less about the film - even IMDb fails to carry a plot synopsis! I still think this film is worth the watch, so don't be put off by this rather negative review - it's just that I would choose to deal with the subject matter in a different way. This film still carries the hallmark Kieslowski feel and that still demands attention. I think the key is not to analyse this film too forensically and to take most of it at face value without digging too deep.

I'll give it 6/10.

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