The Double Life of Véronique (1991)

The_Double_Life_of_VéroniqueThis film presents a unique, but rather confusing concept. The film revolves around two women who lead separate lives, have no immediate connection with other, are not related to each other, but not only are they physically identical, but somehow they have an emotional bond that transcends all physical boundaries, and they also appear to meet their end in the same way. In all honesty, that premise doesn’t make any sense at all, but does allow for some distractingly beautiful film-making.

As for the film’s two main characters, the dual roles are played rather convincingly by the film’s lead actress Irène Jacob, who drifts through the two roles like feathers caught in the wind. Her performances of the two characters almost mirror each other, although the script offers some slight differences between the two. Despite this being a foreign-language film, I felt I could get quite engrossed in the film’s atmosphere, mainly because the film illustrates a kind of poetic communication that, I must admit, is pretty much impossible for me to describe in a way that doesn’t make me sound like a gibbering lunatic.

It’s a beautiful film in terms of both visuals and acting, but I find that the film is hampered by a directionless plot. It relies very heavily on the presence of its main protagonist, but it leaves behind a major paradox that it doesn’t even try to resolve, despite there being ample time in which to resolve it. Thankfully, this is the kind of film that emphasizes on atmosphere and immersion rather than plot. If the film lacked any semblance of atmosphere, then it would have been a masterstroke in the fine art of boredom.

On the topic of atmosphere, the film does a brilliant job at presenting and conveying atmosphere, and as I could mention several times by now, the film’s mesmerizing atmosphere is its biggest strength because it distracts the viewer from a muddled plot. The film’s fixation on music is something else to consider. Both the main characters are involved in music in some way (one a choir soprano and the other a music teacher), and the film makes heavy use of a haunting orchestral score. To be honest though, the film feels more to me like a painting than a film. That said, however, the film-makers seem to be aiming for the same kind of delicacy in their film-making technique as would be called for in the context of fine art painting. That’s certainly the impression I get from the film’s subtle blend of colours.

Despite its flaws, I find that this film can and should be taken as a film of many interconnected characteristics. The story will most likely raise more questions that the director was inclined to answer, but it offers a rewarding package of fragility, beauty, intimacy and mystery within the frame of a subjective narrative. If you’re not thinking about where every little detail fits, you’ll probably be immersed in the vivid and often mystical trip the film seems to offer.

  • Score: 73%
  • Grade: C
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