Krzysztof Kieslowski?s international breakthrough remains one of his most beloved films, a ravishing, mysterious rumination on identity, love, and human intuition. Irène Jacob is incandescent as both Weronika, a Polish cho... more »ir soprano, and her double, Véronique, a French music teacher. Though unknown to each other, the two women share an enigmatic, purely emotional bond, which Kieslowski details in gorgeous reflections, colors, and movements. Aided by Slawomir Idziak?s shimmering cinematography and Zbigniew Preisner?s haunting, operatic score, Kieslowski creates one of cinema?s most purely metaphysical works: The Double Life of Véronique is an unforgettable symphony of feeling.« less
"One of Krzysztof Kieslowski's finest films is "The Double Life of Veronique" ("La Double vie de Véronique"). It's not just a philosophical, arty film, but a subtle and unique tale full of Kieslowski's directorial magic, and gives Irène Jacob a chance to shine in her most challenging role.There are two women, the Polish Weronika and the French Veronique (both played by Irène Jacob). They have never met, never spoken, and do not know that the other exists. They share the same losses and the same health. Weronika is a singer, and Veronique is taking singing lessons. But their lives and souls are bound together, and their personalities are yin-yang opposites, one practical and one a stargazer. What is more, each has the strange feeling that she is, somehow, not alone in the world. One night, Weronika dies onstage while singing. Suddenly in France, Veronique is stricken with a strange feeling, and stops taking her lessons. Weronika has died, but she still lives. Soon she begins to explore, searching for the truth about her double life, and a strange puppeteer who somehow is a link between both girls."Double Life of Veronique" is one of those rare films that just begs to be analyzed. Is it about being puppets in some enormous scheme of things? About fate? Sacrifice? Love? One woman's soul in two bodies? Political symbolism? Or is it simply about some mysterious dimension of the spiritual? The symbols and metaphors can be unwound any which way, and in the end they all work. Even the ending is ambiguous -- is it happy, or sad?Krzysztof Kieslowski's direction is impeccable. His use of light and shadow, and the atmospheric music, make "Double Life" practically a work of art. He dots "Double Life" with plenty of little hints about the inner states of the characters. The stars and leaves, for example, hint at the personalities of Weronika and Veronique -- one a dreamer, one down-to-earth. Kieslowski also used a minimalist approach to dialogue, often using pauses and silence that speak louder than the ordinary words.At times this film seems like a love letter on film to Irène Jacob. Not only is she followed constantly by the camera, but her character is difficult but rewarding. Jacob shines without really seeming to, with the emotion and wonder of a small child in an adult body. Philippe Volter's aura of mystery adds to his excellent acting in his too-brief scenes. Unfortunately, few of the other characters are given much dimension -- the whole focus is on Weronika and Veronique.This bewitching tale of love, loss, and interconnected souls winds a spell around this film. Interpret it as you will. Kieslowski's "Double Life of Veronique" is exquisite."
Beautiful, but somewhat unaffecting
Dennis Littrell | SoCal | 07/25/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Much of this is an adoration of French actress Irène Jacob byDirector Krzysztof Kieslowski; in a sense it is a homage to her, oneof the most beautiful actresses of our time and one of the most talented. If you've never seen her, this is an excellent place to begin. She has an earnest, open quality about her that is innocent and sophisticated at the same time so that everything a man might want in a young woman is realized in her. Part of her power comes from Kieslowski himself who has taught her how she should act to captivate. He has made her like a little girl fully grown, yet uncorrupted, natural, generous, kind, without pretension, unaffected. She is a dream, and she plays the dream so well.The movie itself is very pretty, but somewhat unaffecting with only the slightest touch of blue (when the puppeteer appears by the curtain, the curtain is blue, and we know he is the one, since she is always red). The music by Zbignew Preisner is beautiful and lifts our spirits, highlighted by the soprano voice of Elzbieta Towarnicka. But the main point is Irène Jacob, whom the camera seldom leaves. We see her from every angle, in various stages of dress and undress, and she is beautiful from head to toe. And we see her as she is filled with the joy of herself and her talent, with the wonder of discovery and the wonder of life, with desire, and with love.Obviously this is not a movie for the action/adventure crowd. Everything is subtle and refined with only a gross touch or two (and no gore, thank you) to remind us of the world out there. Véronique accepts the little crudities of life with a generous spirit, the flasher, the two a.m. call, her prospective lover blowing his nose in front of her... She loves her father and old people. She is a teacher of children. She climaxes easily and fully. To some no doubt she is a little too good to be true. And she is, and that is Kieslowski's point: she is a dream. And such a beautiful dream. An actress playing the character twice in a slightly different way has occurred in at least two other films in the nineties: there was Patricia Arquette in David Lynch's Lost Highway (1997) and Gwyneth Paltrow in Sliding Doors (1998). It's an appealing venture for an actress of course and when the actress is as talented as these three are, for the audience as well.Note that as Weronika/Véronique is in two worlds, Poland and France, so too has always been Kieslowski himself in his real life. It is interesting how he fuses himself with his star. This film is his way of making love to her.Kieslowski died in 1996 not long after finishing his celebrated trilogy, Trois Couleurs: Bleu (1993); Rouge (1994) and Bialy (White) (1994). We could use another like him. END"
Stunning and haunting movie!
Ed N | Kensington, Maryland USA | 07/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Double Life of Veronique is an absolutely stunning film. The director, whose work includes Decalogue and the superb Three Colors Trilogy (Blue, White, and Red), displays a confident tone in his deliberate pacing and the subtle way in which he establishes the mood of this picture. In Irene Jacob (also the star of Red), he finds the perfect leading lady, who has an innocent yet mysterious and beautiful aura which works so well with the tone of this film.There isn't really a plotline in this movie, but in general, it concerns the lives of two women (Veronique and Veronikka, both played by Irene Jacob) born on the same day but in different countries. Though they lead separate lives, there are parallels drawn in their existence, and their paths cross ever so briefly as the story of one woman dissolves into the story of the second. There is a distinct dreamlike quality to this film, and certainly, mood rather than narrative is the dominant driving force to the film.Most Americans will consider this film to be a typical European "art house" film. If that is not your cup of tea, then you probably will not like this film, for it is decidedly a non-Hollywood production. Don't even bother trying to compare this film with the recent and remarkably inferior Demi Moore Hollywood film about two similar women living on separate continents; the films are nothing alike. "La double vie de veronique" is an excellent film for those who admire director Kieslowski's films or who have the patience to try something different and enlightening."
BEAUTIFUL AND HAUNTING
EriKa | Iceland | 06/10/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Irene Jacob stars in the dual role of Veronika, a Polish singer with a heart condition, and Veronique, a French puppeteer, who has some inexplicable connection this Polish version of herself. It is an interesting exploration of Veronique's life after Veronika dies, and of how Veronique feels a profound sense of loss at the death of her twin. This film was directed by Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski just before he made his Bleu, Blanc, Rouge trilogy. While this film is a bit oblique and hard to follow at times, it is worthwhile for its dark and fascinating subject matter and the sensual treatment of the scenery and characters. Also notable is the gorgeous soundtrack by frequent Kieslowski collaborator Zbigniew Preisner."
5 stars is not enough...
Dennis Littrell | 06/30/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There is so much to see, to hear and to understand in this movie. It truely is one of the most gorgeous and intelligent works of the last few decades. However, I am shocked and surprised to see that none of the reviewers understood (or mentionned at least) one of the most defining themes of this film. This is not only the story of two women who share a soul and share a destiny, but in parralel, it is the story of Europe divided. Two Veroniques, one in France, one in Poland. Both separated not only by destiny, but by two political and social systems, by the burden of XXth century European history. Remember this film was made in the late 80's early 90's when the world was changing rapidly in Europe, when the two side where getting to know each other once more. Veronique in Poland, suffering from her poor health, was like Eastern Europe suffering under the oppression and limitations of the communist regimes. Veronique in France discovering she had a part of herself in Poland, was like Western Europe taking consicence of the fact that Europe could not be Europe without its other side behind the Iron curtain. There is so much symbolism in this movie that points towards a larger, more universal and maybe even political message. Another thing that makes this movie so memorable and moving is the absolutely magnificient soundtrack. Rarely has film music acheived such perfection."