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Review for The Double Life of Véronique (no spoilers)., 4 January 2005

Krzysztof Kieslowski's The Double Life of Véronique (originally titled La Double Vie de Véronique) might be the best film in the late director's accomplished oeuvre. Perhaps most lauded for his monumental Three Colors trilogy, Kieslowski first explored themes of duality, synchronicity, and fate in this cinematic reverie. Irène Jacob, also the star of Red, handles a double role as two women cut from the same metaphysical cloth -- the Polish Veronika and the French Véronique. Her presence as both women is at once whimsically childlike and sensually melancholic; relentlessly alluring, it is easy to see why she became Kieslowski's muse. Jacob is perfectly fluid in the shift between characters, an embodiment of ideal femininity, as dreamlike as the tone of the entire film.

Actor and director are symbiotic, relying on hazy, autumnal ambiance and mood for narrative, utilizing a subtle minimalist approach to dialogue. This is fine art, unlike heavy-handed Hollywood productions. The tone is consistently ambiguous -- emotionally resonant, to be sure, but beyond a vaguely somber, wistful undercurrent, the movie allows the viewer to fill the "empty space" with his or her own thoughts and feelings. It's a true testament to Kieslowski's mastery, and few films are ever so transcendentally sublime.

The lack of this masterpiece's availability on DVD is a sad affair. There are rumors of a release in 2005, but for fans of movies like Amélie hungry for something with a little more depth, The Double Life of Véronique comes most highly recommended -- even if you have to search high and low for a copy on VHS.