Monday, October 7, 2013

Criteritron #9

The Criteritron is an occasional series in which I take a look at The Criterion Collection's vast offerings on HuluPlus and recommend a title to watch.

The Criteritron #9: The Double Life of Veronique
Poland/France/Norway, 1991
Directed and co-written (with Krzysztof Piesiewicz) by Krzysztof Kieślowski

What Is It?: A fascinating, poetic tale of doubling, set in the dying days of the Cold War, when Poland had begun to shake off Communism but before anyone knew how that would play out. In this world, we meet two inexplicably identical, interconnected women: Polish Weronika and French Véronique (both played by Irène Jacob). Though the two have never met, and are only once in the same place at the same time, they share salient personality traits, like their love of music and approach to relationships. Through the two, Krzysztof Kieślowski explores the nature of connections, loss, and desire, along with some deft allusions to the history of post-WWII Poland and France.

Why Watch It?: Because the combination of a brilliant (but short-lived) auteur, his regular writing partner, and one of the most sympathetic and heart-rending lead performances of recent memory makes Veronique very special indeed. Sławomir Idziak's cinematography plays with color and mood, creating a sense of magical realism that runs throughout the film—especially in the film's second half, where a fanciful plot prefigures Amelie in a way that shows that film for the (enjoyable) fluff that it is. As always, Kieślowski's thematic concerns involve the spiritual and the earthly, the operatic and the mundane, in what feels like a natural extension of his prior The Decalogue and a bridge to his classic, soon-to-follow Three Colors trilogy. But Véronique is lighter and more enjoyable than the other works, on the whole, and much of that is down to Jacob's sensitive, open performance (which won her the Best Actress trophy at Cannes). Lastly, I must confess a personal soft spot for this one, so much so that it has the distinction of being the very first Blu-ray I ever purchased. Of course, it looks great.

The Double Life of Véronique is available for purchase on DVD or Blu-ray, though Netflix currently only offers the DVD via its disc service. You can also stream The Double Life of Véronique on HuluPlus via any compatible device, or through the embedded player below the cut.

No comments:

Post a Comment