Metaphysical, moody, and a wee bit mystifying, 1991's The Double Life Of Véronique is one of the most celebrated works from the late, great Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski. It won the Best Actress gong at Cannes for Irène Jacob's delectable dual performance as two identical-looking women, one living in France, the other in Poland. When Irene 1 dies, Irene 2 is thrown into a spiritual tailspin. It's a ravishingly pretty piece, but it may tax viewers searching for answers that remain out of reach.
There's far less of the down-to-earth drama that characterised Kieslowski's final masterpiece, the Three Colours Trilogy, in which Jacob also took a lead role (Red). Here, we first encounter her as the Polish Weronika, a music student with a voice as angelic as her appearance. Rather than pass the baton back and forth Sliding Doors-style, the film waits until Weronika dies during a recital (cue some astonishing corpse-eye-view shots) before switching focus to the Paris-based Véronique. Suddenly possessed by an urge to quit her singing studies, Véronique instead follows a clue-strewn path that leads to her secret admirer (Philippe Volter).
"TOO MUCH OF HER FLOPPING ABOUT"
Meandering through a maze of poetic ambiguity towards what could loosely be described as an ending, this precious puzzle of a picture would be hard-pressed to sustain interest without the spellbinding Jacob. That said, even the most smitten viewer may find that there's a bit too much of her flopping about like a dying swan. Still, if Double Life is arguably only half as rewarding as some of Kieslowski's other films, then it remains an indelible entry in an outstanding career.