Entertainment, irene jacob, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Movies

The Double Life of Veronique

This “review”- if you may call it so- was long overdue. If you are reading this review to know about the story line, then I would ask you to stop here. (Here’s a trailer of the movie, if you are interested). I will be jumping back and forth between scenes that touched me and the moments that I couldn’t fully comprehend. This movie is connected to Decalogue IX because the story line is the same.

Irene Jacob, our girl next door, does a spectacular job as Weronika and Veronique in the movie The Double Life of Veronique. I was reading some critiques by other people yesterday and one of them said that the last scene was over done and too perfect to be true. I beg to differ however. The second last scene was a cinematic beauty. When Veronique’s lover, Alexandre, tells her that he’s writing another book based on the lives of two women who are twins, the look on Veronique’s face is to die for. So, what does this mean? Is Kieslowski trying to tell us that Weronika and Veronique were twins? Alexandre had earlier chased Veronique, a complete stranger to see if she would respond to him because he wanted to know if the plot of his book was realistic. Veronique, on the other hand, feels that he is in love with her. Without knowing who he is, she also falls in love with him, only to get hurt later when she discovers the truth. I sometimes feel that Alexandre loved Veronique more because she was a “subject” for his various creative endeavors. He woos her by sending an empty cigar box, a black broken piece of thread and a radio with background noise…two of these objects connect Veronique to Weronika. Did Alexandre know Weronika or was it just pure co-incidence? After all, he does divulge to her the main theme of his book- Two women, born on the same day, in two different cities; one burns her hand on stove and at the exact same time, the other woman withdraws her hand by instinct, as if to have learned all of a sudden not to do it. If any of you have watched this movie and know the answer to this question, then please drop me a comment.

Another lovely scene is the one in the wide courtyard where a political procession has been going on. Weronika doesn’t even notice it because she’s so enraptured in her staff notations. (A side note here- This scene has also been shown during the opening titles, suggesting that probably everything is pre-decided?) This is where we she sees Veronique getting into a tourist bus, clicking pictures. Weronika’s shocked. Later, Veronique is shocked too when her lover Alexandre discovers the picture of her look alike and points it out to her. I wanted to ask myself the question that why did Veronique start crying profusely after seeing her look alike in the small stub of the picture? Was it a realization on her part that she would die too? Or was it a final acceptance of the invisible force that had been guiding her all her life? Kieslowski’s movie is quite open-ended and herein lies some of the problems.

The starting scene where two little girls are being guided by their mothers is sheer brilliance. Little Weronika views the world upside down, gazing at the stars while Veronique is being prodded by her mother to look deeper at the fine veins of a leaf- something that she tries to do later on in her life too. Kieslowski continues the significance of this scene through out the film by giving both the women a crystal ball with some stars to play with and by utilizing upside down camera angles very often.

There is another scene where Weronika is playing with her crystal ball, which bounces off, and then, she holds her head high and welcomes the golden rays of the sun- something similar to what she did while singing in the choir when she lifts her head and gets drenched in the rain. This scene looks spectacular, but I couldn’t connect it to the plot. I’m asking myself too many questions perhaps.

I like the way Kieslowski introduces Van den Budenmayer again in this movie when Veronique is teaching young kids a piece of music and tells them that it has been composed by a 200 year old Dutch composer, who’s almost been forgotten. This is the same piece that had been previously sung by Weronika when she was dying. The music of this movie is as haunting as it can get.

The American version has another scene added to the movie, where Veronique’s father is calling her and she comes running into her arms. It was quite trite and unnecessary. I don’t know why Miramax requested for it.

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5 thoughts on “The Double Life of Veronique

  1. Woah that was comprehensive. I did watch this a couple of weeks back and as much as I loved it…it didn’t blow me away. I don’t mean to say I didn’t like the film…I’m just saying Red is my Favorite Keislowski film.

    Nice review btw.

  2. @Presti, Yes, it didn’t “blow me away” either. It was a little open-ended and that is what got me. But it was still a very good movie. I forgot to mention the scene where Weronika leans against a glass to feel its coolness and calm herself down…right before the last performance of her life. As usual, the music was brilliant.

  3. bApHoMEt says:

    Do you sometimes feel that Kieslowski over-uses metaphors? I mean, do films have to be really cryptic to be great? The reason I love Kieslowki is not for his stories bu the way he tells them. Veronique is intruiging, but it’s the simplicity of the camera, the fluidity of the shots and the mystery that is Irene Jacob that really moves me. I dint really get interested in the metaphors of duality that Kieslowki really tries to bring in here.

    p.s. Of course, as with much of Kieslowki’s work, I can always present a counter argument supporting the said metaphors.

  4. @bap- I do feel that he overuses metaphors. He tries to attach meaning to every single frame and visual scene. I think it becomes a little too perfect to be true. For eg- Weronika dies while singing; so instinctively, Veronique gives up her music career. Their lives run parallel to each other (Something similar to what happened in Red where the young lawyer’s life is a mirror image of the older retired judge’s life).

    I think this is a reflection of his inner belief that everything in life is metaphorical and has a higher meaning, even though we don’t realize it…pre-destined, pre-planned…deja vu? It happens to me often.

    Still, he’s the only film maker to whom I’m drawn like this. I guess the metaphors work. I liked the visual distortion that he utilized in this movie. Do you remember the scene where weronika is traveling by train to Krakow? He uses this particular style there.

  5. Pingback: Tagged Again! « Time and Again

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