Friday, November 15, 2013

842. La double vie de Veronique/The Double Life of Veronique (1991)

Running Time: 98 minutes
Directed By: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Written By: Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krzysztof Piesiewicz
Main Cast: Irene Jacob, Philippe Volter, Claude Duneton, Wladyslaw Kowalski, Sandrine Dumas
Click here to view the trailer


Technically, I should have probably done this in conjunction with the "Three Colors" trilogy, but I didn't and now, here we are. This will be the final Kieslowski film for a while, as I plan to stash away "The Decalogue" for the finale.

So this film is just a little bit confusing, so beware heading into it and be prepared to give it your full attention. In fact, maybe confusing isn't even the right word - just know that it DOES need to have your undivided attention. Irene Jacob stars in a dual role, first as Weronika, a Polish opera singer. Toward the beginning of the film, Weronika travels to Krakow to be with her sick aunt, telling her father goodbye and leaving behind a boyfriend. In Krakow, Weronika auditions for the lead in an operatic concert and gets the part. Later, during the first performance of the concert, Weronika passes out and is declared dead. Skip to France, as Veronique (also Jacob) makes love to her boyfriend and is overcome with sadness. From here on out, the film becomes more and more about the fluctuating emotions of Veronique and the advances of a puppeteer named Alexandre (Volter). Strange things begin happening to Veronique, as she receives an empty cigar box and a shoelace in the mail, with no return address. She is also awakened one night by a reflection from a neighboring apartment. I'll just go ahead and let you experience the rest for yourself, because trust me, the film is an experience.


But is it an experience I enjoyed, that is the question? Well, I don't know. Man, I've been kind of undecided and wishy washy lately haven't I? Oh well, I reserve that right! But, for those of you who have seen this, I think you'll agree that this is a tough nut to crack (damn, I've been overusing that phrase lately too). Anyway, in my view Kieslowski presents to us a slice of life version of French/Polish life, but then doesn't really give us a slice of life movie. The movie that we get is an extremely poetic, extremely artsy film that is sometimes a little overwhelming and sometimes, just sometimes, a little dull. Now, don't get me wrong, the film is beautiful, filled with an unbelievably emotional performance from Irene Jacob (who has surely never been more stunning) and comes off more like a 'come to life poem' than a motion picture. However, for as beautiful as the film is, I feel like we, the audience, were kind of stiffed on the plot and set up for something that could have been really interesting and didn't get it delivered.

And yeah, the movie is a little confusing too. Apparently Kieslowski is suggesting that we are all connected somehow, or perhaps he's saying that we all have someone, whom we do not know, but whom we are emotionally and spiritually tied to, not to mention looking exactly like them. It seems to me that the physical appearance isn't so important and really Irene Jacob could have just played Veronique while another actress altogether played Weronika, as long as we knew they were connected. Also, why such a short time with Weronika? Why not bounce back and forth between the two, so that we could draw parallels. Remember at the end when the puppeteer suggests his new story, about two doppelgangers, one burning their hand on a stove and the other ALMOST burning their hand on a stove? Why not run with that and actually show us things like that. Again, I feel like this was an opportune time to play the plot a lot more than it was played upon. Beautiful film though, I can't say that enough.

RATING: 6/10  Beautiful doesn't always equal best though and I think a '6' will suffice for now, until such time as I can give this one a rewatch.


November 15, 2013  12:25pm

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