Grump Talk: The Double Life of Veronique

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Every now and again you find a movie you just fall into an easy relationship with. It’s a little weird and embarrassing to use the R word in regards to a movie, but I feel the word is called for in a circumstance such as this. I recently saw the 1991 French/Czech flick The Double Life of Veronique. It explores the possibility of doppelgangers, people out there that look exactly like us, who act like us, who think like us, but lead slightly different lives. Of course, the focus of the story is on women who share the same face and name, as well as an ethereal connection that neither one is consciously aware of, but nontheless permeates their lives. Czech Weronika is a young woman with an aspiring singing career who tries to pursue her dream regardless of a serious heart condition. French Veronique is a music teacher who falls in love with a puppeteer who seems to have vague insight into her nature as a double.

Within the first few minutes of the film… it had me. It just resonated on exactly the right frequency to make me relate and understand it on a level deeper than conscious, rational thought, which makes the whole thing a bit of an odd bird to try to describe. I understood it emotionally more than I grasped it intellectually. The scenes are framed just-so to create dreamy visuals that give the sense that you’re watching some sort of real-world fairy tale. The story makes just enough sense to fool you into thinking you can figure it all out, but the revelatory moment that you always think is just around the corner never quite comes. Unless I’m some huge idiot. Which I may be! But just about everything in the movie’s perfect and if you wanna treat yourself to something fantastic, find a way to rent the Criterion Collection DVD. Broaden your horizons, grumpeteers~

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4 Responses to “Grump Talk: The Double Life of Veronique”

  1. FilmWalrus Says:

    A wonderful and succinct summary of this film’s ineffable tone. Kieslowski is a masterful at building up subtle emotional effects through composition, atmosphere and gesture (and he knows just how long to hold a shot!) where afterwards it is difficult to nail down how he did it. He really makes you live inside his films. I also recommend to your readers his Three Colours trilogy, the Decalogue and A Short Film About Killing. Although all his work is worthwhile, some of the past VHS/DVD releases have been pretty indifferent transfers. I am really excited to check out Double Life on Criterion.

  2. Rick Says:

    Since you didn’t feel it was necessary to show part of that ineffable quality the movie contains.

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