The Double Life of Véronique is a French and Polish-language film directed by the great Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski. If you’re used to fast paced, plot-driven films this film will leave you with more questions than answers, but that’s part of its beauty and enduring attraction. This is arthouse cinema of extremely high craftsmanship.
Most of us have daydreamed about there being someone else in the world that looks like you and lives a life like yours. In this film there are two Véroniques – one a Polish choir soprano the other also a singer who intuitively decides to give up performing to become a teacher. The two women don’t know each other but seem to share a mysterious bond that transcends language and geography.
In Poland Weronika suddenly feels she is not alone in the world and breaks with her boyfriend and moves to the city. In France Véronique suddenly says to her father “All my life I’ve felt like I was here and somewhere else at the same time.”
I’ll let you discover for yourself how their lives interconnect, a connection that’s magical but also tragic. Knowing there’s someone else in the world like you can, bring powerful insights and fear for the future too.
Kieslowski was one of the few directors able to let you see life being lived using light and reflections, using color and camera filters to create an ethereal atmosphere. He creates a magical world rather than a plot-driven narrative.
In life questions do not always get answered. Total understanding of everything and everyone is beyond us all.
As the New York Times said on its release in 1991, ‘The film suggests mysterious connections of personality and emotion, but it was never meant to yield any neat, summary idea about the two women’s lives.’
In life questions do not always get answered. Total understanding of everything and everyone is beyond us all. All we can do is see life as experiences that are sometimes magical and give them our own meaning as best we can.
Playing the two leading roles Irène Jacob is breathtaking. I saw her on stage in London when she played the title character in Madame Melville opposite Macaulay Culkin and she was able to dominate the auditorium with a subtle, understated presence.
The Double Life of Véronique lets us enjoy the natural beauty of Irène Jacob’s performance, the artistry of the cinematography and the mesmerizing richness of the design and direction. It’s a fragile but long-lasting masterpiece.