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41. La double vie de Véronique
The Double Life of Veronique
Polish: Podwójne zycie Weroniki

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The Double Life of Véronique (French: La double vie de Véronique, Polish: Podwójne zycie Weroniki) is a 1991 French- and Polish-language film directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski, co-written by Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz, starring Irène Jacob, with music by Zbigniew Preisner. The film was Kieslowski's first to be produced partly outside Poland.
A Criterion Collection region 1 DVD was released in November 2006 in the USA and Canada only. It includes an alternate ending which Kieslowski did at the request of Harvey Weinstein of Miramax for the American release.

The film follows the lives of a young woman first in Poland, Weronika, and then a young woman in France, Véronique, both played by Irène Jacob. Though unrelated, the two appear identical, share many personality traits, and seem to be aware of each other on some level, as if they are doppelgängers; but except for a brief glimpse through a bus window in Kraków, they never meet. After Weronika sacrifices everything in the pursuit of a singing career, Véronique abandons her own similar goal because of poor health and attempts to find an independent course for her life, while becoming involved with a manipulative man who is fascinated by clues to her double nature. The man is a puppeteer and maker of marionettes, helping raise the questions that are central to the film: is there such a thing as free will, or is it up to a creator of some kind, or is it just a matter of chance that one acts and thinks as one does?

The film has a strong fantasy element, though the supernatural aspect of the story is never explained. Like the later Three Colors: Blue, it showcased Preisner's musical score as a major plot element, crediting his work to the fictional van den Budenmayer. The cinematography is highly stylized, using color and camera filters to create an ethereal atmosphere; the cinematographer, Slawomir Idziak, had previously experimented with these techniques in one episode of The Decalogue, and Kieslowski would later use color for a wider range of effects in his Three Colors trilogy. Kieslowski had earlier used the idea of exploring different paths in life for the same person, in his Polish film Przypadek (Blind Chance), and the central choice faced by Weronika/Véronique is based on a brief subplot in the ninth episode of The Decalogue.

Film critic Marek Haltof, like many Polish viewers, sees the film as a political allegory in which Weronika represents Poland and Véronique France, or the West: both are highly cultured, but while Véronique is seemingly free to choose her destiny, Weronika's early death represents the sacrifice of Poland during the Second World War and its subsequent incorporation into the Soviet bloc; Véronique senses this loss without realizing what it is, and that she is incomplete without Weronika.
Influential film critic Roger Ebert entered the film to his Great Movies collection in February, 2009. The film got 4-stars (out of 5) rating plus "High Artistic Quality" on www.allmovie.com . At the Internet movie database, the film holds user rating of 7.8 (out of 10), based on 9558 votes . Sete about.com, which specializes on DVD reviews, gave the film 5 of 5 stars in their critical review . The film got favourable rating (3 of 5 stars) on www.bbc.co.uk/films and holds 84 % rating on www.rottentomatoes.com

A Criterion Collection region 1 DVD was released in November 2006 in the USA and Canada only. It includes an alternate ending which Kieslowski did at the request of Harvey Weinstein of Miramax for the American release.

Awards

1991 Cannes Film Festival
.The Double Life of Véronique won the FIPRESCI Prize and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury for Krzysztof Kieslowski
Won: Best Actress (Irène Jacob)
Won: FIPRESCI Prize (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
Won: Prize of the Ecumenical Jury (Krzysztof Kieslowski)

Los Angeles Film Critics (USA)
Won: Best Music (Zbigniew Preisner; also for At Play in the Fields of the Lord and Europa Europa)

National Society of Film Critics Awards (USA)
Won: Best Foreign Language Film

Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski
Produced by Leonardo De La Fuente
Written by Krzysztof Piesiewicz
Krzysztof Kieslowski
Starring Irène Jacob
Music by Zbigniew Preisner
Cinematography Slawomir Idziak
Editing by Jacques Witta
Distributed by Miramax (USA)
Release date(s) May 15, 1991
Running time 98 minutes
Country Poland
Language French / Polish

 

Irène Jacob - Weronika/Véronique (with the voice of Anna Gornostaj for Polish dialogue)
Halina Gryglaszewska - Aunt
Kalina Jedrusik - Gaudy Woman
Aleksander Bardini - Orchestra Conductor
Wladyslaw Kowalski - Weronika's father
Guillaume De Tonquédec - Serge
Jerzy Gudejko - Antek
Philippe Volter - Alexandre Fabbri
Bruce Schwartz - Puppeteer
Sandvrine Dumas - Catherine





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