The Double Life of Veronique, 1991

Irene Jacob is exceptionally captivating playing the dual role of Veronika, an aspiring Polish soprano, and Veronique, a French music teacher. The Double Life of Veronique is a highly cerebral story of two people who feel a profound connection with someone they do not know and have never met. We first meet Veronika in Poland: singing in a choir, meeting a lover, auditioning. She wakes up one evening from a strange dream, gasping, and tells her father that she believes she is not alone. She begins to suffer bouts of breathlessness. During her debut performance, she collapses on stage. We then meet Veronique in Paris: teaching music to young students, watching a puppet show, visiting her father at his country estate. When Veronique begins to receive mysterious packages from an unknown admirer, she believes that she is deeply in love, and that the source is the answer that would fill the inexplicable and sudden void in her life. However, as with life, illusion may be more intriguing, but proves fleeting. What remains is a profound revelation that leads her to an inevitable conclusion and closure.

The Double Life of Veronique is a highly provocative film that examines a soul’s search for identity and connection. Kieslowski uses a sepia overlay on the film to create a monochromatic, almost ethereal atmosphere. The suffusive darkness achieved by this technique is a manifestation of the mystical and dreamlike elements of the story (note the similar effect achieved in Agnieszka Holland’s Olivier, Olivier). As in Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, the visual “otherworldliness” of the film is a representation of the exploration of the subconscious. Note the elements of fairy tales and vivid dreams in the film. The unfolding of the story is elliptical and obscure, as if the protagonist is reluctantly waking from a sweet, intangible dream. In fact, she is.

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