Despite pic’s many-splendored outbursts of filmic creativity and intense emotion, final result, about the opposite destinies of a Polish girl and a French girl who look alike and have the same name and tics, remains a head-scratching cipher with blurred edges.
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The film is filled to dazzling with the vitreous and the translucent; the flaw running down the window of a Polish train seems, in some mystifying way, as momentous as a rift in space-time. We see through a glass darkly, and often confusingly, but at least we see.
Although not all the loose ends are tied up in the telling of this bizarre and absorbing tale of love, grief and goose-bumps, one scarcely minds at all, since the fourth-dimensional doings on offer, (underlined with a marvellously moody, haunting score by Zbigniew Preisner) are like an erotic trip into The Twilight Zone.
The Double Life of Veronique is a mesmerizing poetic work composed in an eerie minor key. Its effect on the viewer is subtle but very real. The film takes us completely into its world, and in doing so, it leaves us with the impression that our own world, once we return to it, is far richer and portentous than we had imagined.
This movie achieves a rare grace: it tells a story that could only exist in the form of a movie (or, perhaps, as a piece of poetry). The story is told not so much in customary narrative structures, but in glimpses, hints, and intimations. It has a way of taking the solid and making it chimerical.
The elusiveness of the film is precisely the point: it is as beautiful and mysterious as a poem and its formal elegance and conviction are unarguable. What makes it a must-see, however, is the generous, unselfconscious passion of Jacob's performance as a young woman - two young women - in love.
There is a long central section in the film which is a triumph of narrative technique.
The film wilts under the harsh light of rationality; after all, how could anyone make sense of a heroine whose doppelgänger is both distinctly separate and inextricably connected to her? And yet these parallel lives rhyme so tunefully through the reflective cinematography and sweeping score that any confusion or disbelief tends to melt away.
The Double Life of Veronique doesn't end. About three-quarters of the way through, it starts to dissolve, like mist, so that by the time it is actually over the screen seems to have been blank for some time.