The Double Life of Veronique

Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski


Re-released in a new 35mm print, this groundbreaking 1991 film by Krzysztof Kieslowski straddles the Polish and French phases of the director’s career. It’s a film in two parts—the first set in Poland, the second in France—but much of its fascination has to do with the connections and parallels Kieslowski draws between the stories of his twin heroines. Though they never meet and are unrelated by family, the two women are virtually identical, sharing physical and psychological traits as well as musical talent and a rare heart disease. Unknowingly, they also share each other’s wisdom, so that each can learn from the other’s experiences. Life will depart from one but continue in the other, as if transmitted to another person, another body, by an unconscious unity of soul.

The idea that mysterious connections can exist between seemingly disparate characters is a common theme in Kieslowski’s work. Here that notion becomes the central concern, as the lives and destinies of the Polish Veronika and the French Veronique are linked by forces which are beyond their comprehension. Kieslowski’s talent lies in his ability to combine the physical, psychological and spiritual dimensions of his character’s world in a form that makes for powerful drama but also leaves plenty of room for abstract speculation. A study in solitude, sadness and strange, inexplicable forces like fear, filial love, loyalty and desire, this masterpiece represents the full blossoming of the film-maker’s ornate but exquisitely muted expressionism. Irene Jacob is quite simply amazing in the lead roles.

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