Director Krzysztof Kieślowski manages to create in a mere 98 minutes one of the most distantly moving, beautifully choreographed films of my time.
From the moment the Double Life of Veronique begins, there is the sense that you are being given something, bit only scarcely. Something that will feel altogether personal, yet beyond yourself. Like you are here, and there, at the same time.
This film made me feel so much, and the sweeping score, composed by Zbigniew Preisner, is one that greatly impacts on the scale that should be expected from any film to be looked at as a modern art house masterpiece.
The fear of being and not being alone in this world is one major theme quietly and beautifully explored in; this is what Kieślowski’s Red should have been (for those of you familiar with his Three Colors trilogy). Irene Jacob takes on her role with an ease of emotional output that one is hard pressed to find (but not surprisingly so in french cinema). Like with the Three Colors series, juxtaposed are a Polish life, and a French life (undoubtedly due to the directors own geographical history), and what Irène is able to relay to us between these two worlds, between these two, slowly unraveled understandings of a world, a feeling, and an unconscious perception of present connection is breathtaking.
The color scheme and tone are very similar to his series, you will feel warm tones no matter how dark the circumstance, though lighting and music become very, very key instruments of foreshadowing or continuity. There is like an orchestra embedded into our brains as the film plays out, there are just certain details that he will not let us loose sight of, although stealthily.
This is cinematographically the equivalent to black gold; Kieślowski is definitely a fan of shots from the neck up and heavy on the thinking room up top, but the way in which the camera moves around her.. Yes there are the standard framed shots: this is who’s talking, now he’s talking, now she’s looking at this. But there is something about the fluidity of the camera, essentially our window into her life, that is absolutely an extension of that feeling we get (and ultimately share with the character); that we are both here, and there. We are living separately, simultaneously. Is this not true of our own day to day lives?
For the cinephile that looks at, say, Cléo de 5 a 7 or Vivre sa Vie, or the Silence (or most early Bergman, just to be specific) and thinks that only these waves in france or sweden or wherever, in the 50s, 60s, and prior even, are the sole source of cinematic excellence; for the cinephile who thinks of the 90s and what comes to mind are things like The Craft and Stealing Beauty (not to discount either and serving their purpose within pop-culture and the psyche of the 90s); please pay heade to what Kieślowski has accomplished, and what he has ultimately bestowed to us all.
As far as I, the ever emotionally isolated, am concerned, The Double Life of Veronique, gives me the opportunity to explore (in cinematic security) the ostracizing, and yet comforting concept of where one stands in this world, on this earth, as a being. Whether that be alone, together, here, there, or everywhere, all at once.
director: Krzysztof Kieślowsk
language: Polish, French
length: 1 Hour, 38 Minutes
where to watch: rental