Krzysztof Kieślowski’s beautiful, surreal, baffling movie, “The Double Life of Veronique (1991)” has always haunted me. Irene Jacob’s performance is mesmerizing, seductive, tragic, the music veers to the edge of extremis, and the poetry of the celluloid images moves into uncharted cinematic territory. It’s arguably Kieślowski’s greatest work, though many critics give the nod to his “Decalogue.”
The uncanny. Rilke’s dolls. The impossibility of perfect twins across the globe. But they exist. France, Poland, but it could be anywhere, anytime. And you feel what that twin feels. You know their mortality is tied to your own in some unexplained, never explained way. Inextricably bound to that mortality, to that other life, to that other dream. Not like a puppet on a string. Nothing so easy or simple. Perhaps like a puppet given its freedom for a time, but with other strings attached, somewhere. No. Not like that at all. More like a hidden emotion finally appearing as life in the rain. The unsaid, the just-out-of-reach, the gap between. Between . . . .
Aside from the incredible direction and vision of Kieślowski, the music by Zbigniew Preisner is simply stunning. As he did in the Three Colors Trilogy, Preisner deepens the sense of the sublime and the mysterious in each film. For me, there is an ancient core in the music, an ancient tragic sense, one that wanders throughout the films and suddenly bursts into flame without warning. A gypsy sublime, in a way. Few directors, in fact, ever managed to merge sound and image like Kieślowski, blessed as he was with the work of Preisner, as if they were living a double life. Twins. Image and Sound. Sound and Image. Going back thousands of years . . . .