Wednesday, September 17, 2008

THE DOUBLE LIFE OF VERONIQUE (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1991, France)

The silent stars above and the mummer of falling leaves below contrast the division between our body and spirit, and the secret connection between two kindred souls. Though we are social beings, raise families, love and empathize with others, we live and die truly alone, isolated within coffins of flesh, blood, and bone: Our fleeting identities abstract and impressionable and our innermost desires and thoughts surface from unknown convoluted depths.

Weronika and Veronique are two separate people who have never met, share no genetic history, and whose lives only cross momentarily through the lens of a camera. Yet each feels that another half exists, a divine bond unbroken by distance or time, that they are not alone in this vast existential cosmos. Kieslowski’s film is divided like these twin personalities: The first half hour follows Weronika, a Polish singer whose beautiful life ends abruptly during an operatic performance. The final hour is an intimate portrayal of Veronique, a French music teacher and her slow spiral into spiritual malaise. She feels empty, as if a vital element has been lost. Her relationship with a puppeteer reflects her loss of identity: this slow insidious manipulation reshapes her into a new wooden form.

Kieslowski films with many color filters, he drenches the mise-en-scene with golden hues, cold blues, and lush greens. These colors are prismatic reflections of their innermost feelings: emotions given form and substance. Though the film lacks formal structure, it is not meant to be a linear narrative: this is the abstract portrayed at 24 frames-per-second, accompanied by the music of dreams. Final Grade: (A)

1 comment:

ADRIAN said...

I had trouble watching Double Life at first. I am planing to watch it the second time. It seems that Kieslowski have not fully established a divide in the storyline, between Weronika and Veronique. he fused them such that one cannot exist without the other.