The Double Life of V&eacute;ronique (15) <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

The transmigration of the soul might not be cinema's most obvious subject but in Krzysztof Kieslowski's 1991 film it becomes an occasion of haunting and elusive inquiry. Two physically identical girls, one Polish, one French, live hundreds of miles apart and have never met, but when Weronika, a choral singer with a weak heart, collapses on stage, Véronique feels a tremor of profound grief pass through her.

The plot, which mingles photographs, bits of string and a French puppeteer, is well-nigh impossible to decipher, and you suspect that's just the way Kieslowski wanted it. What holds and haunts is the mood of spiritual yearning, beautifully foregrounded in Irène Jacob's touching double performance, and cinematographer Slawomir Idziak's numinous play of light and dark - one has the curious but not unpleasing sense of being simultaneously baffled and exhilarated. As Georges Braque once said: "Mysteries have to be respected if they are to retain their power."

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