More noise than signal

The Double Life of Veronique

Republished from the show notes of my other site, Fuds on Film.

We’ve gone from the overly literal titles to the overtly misleading ones, I see.

I can’t think of a way to talk about the presented narrative of this film without sounding exceptionally dismissive, which I don’t necessarily mean pejoratively. At any rate, Irène Jacob’s Weronika goes about her life, visiting her aunt in Kraków where she stumbles into an audition for a choir, which she nails. Walking home, she notices an extraordinarily similar looking tourist on a bus, but before we can do much with this information, Weronika abruptly drops dead during a performance.

Off to Paris, then, with said tourist Véronique (Irène Jacob, naturally) going about her life as a music teacher, impressed with the tale spun by visiting puppeteer and author Alexandre Fabbri (Philippe Volter). The feeling is seemingly mutual, as confirmed by a weird scavenger hunt as mating ritual. Soon, Véronique checks her photographs, noticing an extraordinarily similar looking Polish girl, which perhaps ties into her vague feeling like she was here and somewhere else at the same time. The film then ends.

Now, I don’t really dislike The Double Life of Veronique, but I’d feel remiss if I didn’t point out that it is, at the very best and giving it a lot off leeway, the Life of Weronika and Also the Life of Véronique Who Is Not Leading a Double Life, But One Single Life With Some Really Vague Feelings About Another Life That is Alluded To Once Or Twice, but I suppose that’s not as snappy a title.

Irène Jacob does give a very likeable performance which helps immensely, and the romance with Philippe Volter is as believable as something that’s tending more towards fairytale than gritty realism can be, which fits well with the tone of the piece.

However I can’t help but feel it should have been doubling down harder on that fairytale elements, particularly if you must actually attempt to link the two women’s lives in a way other than mere coincidence, which it does maybe quarter-heartedly and one-eighth-assedly.

Really, I got to the end of this and filed it as a film that I have seen, and will most likely never think of again. Wikipedia, the internet’s ultimate arbiter of truth, informs me that this film explores the themes of identity, love, and human intuition. If it does, then I have explored the tombs of the Egyptian Pharos, because I was in a plane that flew somewhere vaguely near to them in one dimension and a few thousand feet above them in another at some point, once.

So, it’s immaculately produced, with likeable performances, and some intriguing narrative hooks that made this a pleasant watch, but I can’t find any of the depth it seems I’m expected to in this. So, I’m not recommending you avoid it, by any means, but I can’t give it a full throated thumbs up, because, well, that’s not how thumbs up work.