Movie Dictator Club: La Double Vie De Véronique (The Double Life Of Veronique, 1991)

The Movie Dictator Club for the month of March, 2010 finally brings me into contact with an extremely acclaimed director!

Written By: Krzysztof Kieslowski & Krzysztof Piesiewicz
Directed By: Krzysztof Kieslowski

It’s been a day now since I finished my initial viewing of La Double Vie De Véronique and I can’t help but feel it is a movie that requires multiple viewings. Before I go any further let me set one thing straight, I don’t believe it requires multiple viewings because it’s impossible to understand in one viewing or that those extra viewings are necessary for the film to make sense. My stance is that the multiple viewings will bear copious fruit in the form of interpretations of the film, its characters and that each new viewing will serve as a sort of mini-revelation. Perhaps I will be proven incorrect over time, but as of this moment I know in my soul that La Double Vie De Véronique will only be even more mysterious and full of possible ideas and theories with each and every viewing.

If the above paragraph isn’t enough of an indication, I will tell you now that this may not be one of my best reviews. The reason for this is simple, I’m having a hard time putting my thoughts on La Double Vie De Véronique into words. I know that I loved it, I know that a day later I am still thinking about it, and I know that I can name certain aspects that obviously worked for me. However, much of La Double Vie De Véronique resides in the interpretation of each individual viewer. With that being the case I’m struggling a bit to relate to you why I did in fact love La Double Vie De Véronique. I will make an effort though, because that is what I do, that and fail a lot, but I am me after all.

First things first, let’s get the easy material out of the way. Irène Jacob is amazing in her dual roles, in fact she is the linchpin that holds the entire film together. To go back to the subjectivity of La Double Vie De Véronique, her face is what relates said subjectivity. She never gives us any reason for the actions she takes, she simply takes action and allows the world of the film to coil around her. Her performance is aided by the wonderful mood of the film, a mood that is also helped by the lovely music and the brilliant cinematography. Every shot in La Double Vie De Véronique serves any number of purposes, each shot is packed full of meaning without ever feeling heavy handed. Then there is the color, the pacing, the rumination and so on and so on. You see, there are plenty of concrete triumphs for La Double Vie De Véronique, but the same can’t be said for what I believe truly elevates the film into “wow” status.

Not to beat a dead horse, but what I most took away from La Double Vie De Véronique was the subjective nature it bled through and through. I know this is enhanced by my personal feelings on film. I am a follower of the interpretive theory, a theory that puts forth the idea that artistic works, such as film, are shaped by whatever the audience puts into them. That is why I have such a hard time relating why I find La Double Vie De Véronique to be such a wonderful film, because it so embraces the subjective, or interpretive, nature of art that what I say is only true for me. I know this sounds like I am talking in circles, and I kinda am, but that is what you get when you try to explain why a film that immerses itself in the subjectivity of interpretation was great in your eyes.

Let me try this one more time, La Double Vie De Véronique is a deeply personal experience for each person who watches it. That is what I believe, maybe La Double Vie De Véronique is about the possible duality of the soul, natural versus supernatural, dreams or connectivity. I could go on and on because La Double Vie De Véronique is a film that you can dissect for hours and never come to any sort of concrete understanding. There are movies that seek to give you answers and then there is a film like La Double Vie De Véronique where any attempt at supplying the answers would undermine all that is great about the film.

Hopefully what I just wrote made a bit of sense to you, but if it didn’t feel free to ask me some questions in comment form. I do highly recommend La Double Vie De Véronique, but I can’t recommend it for any specific reason, you’ll simply have to watch the film and come to your own conclusion. On the level of personal connection there are very few films like La Double Vie De Véronique and that’s why the most I can do for you is tell you that I loved it and look forward to revisiting it many times. Your experience may be different, but that’s the whole point of La Double Vie De Véronique, at least I think so. I thank jbissell for his amazing dictation and with that my mind is spent.





6 responses to “Movie Dictator Club: La Double Vie De Véronique (The Double Life Of Veronique, 1991)

  1. Great Review… I first saw it years ago on IFC but it was in a very poor print along with the fact that they used the U.S. ending. I still enjoyed it and enamored by its mystery but wasn’t happy about the ending. Then when I got the Criterion DVD and finally saw it again a few months ago. I liked it even more as I saw how it originally ended. I hope to revisit again soon so I can give it a proper review while go into detail for the Criterion DVD. Yet, my favorite Kieslowski film is still “Trois Couleurs-Bleu”.

  2. You hit the nail on the head with the opening paragraph. I’ve seen this film a handful of times and with each viewing I come up with an entirely different view of the film.

    In fact, I wrote two reviews of the film a year apart and while the two both offered high praise they both came to totally different conclusions about what the film was. I ended up compiling the two because both viewpoints were valid and interesting. It’s the film I think I’ll end up revisiting the most because every time I don’t simply notice new things but a totally new way of looking at the film.

  3. edgar chaput

    This is some freaky ass shit.
    You and I are doing a Star Wars marathon. Obviously, we both felt compelled to write reviews for other films between Star Wars reviews, right? Well, I’m currently writing about Kieslowski’s Three Colours trilogy (a review for ‘Blue’ has already been published) and here you are with ‘La Double Vie de Véronique’.

    What the fuck?!?

  4. Void – I still have yet to see the Three Colors trilogy.

    James – I’m hoping that the rest of his work is just as open to interpretation.

    Edgar – Great minds think alike Edgar, great minds think alike…

  5. Kieslowski is just mysterious like that.

  6. Mysterious in film can be a great thing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s