LA DOUBLE VIE DE VERONIQUE (1991)

Is this the most beautiful film ever photographed? I’m trying to think of a more ravishing film but coming up short.

Admittedly I haven’t seen any of Kieslowski’s other films for comparison (until now they were, with Kurosawa’s, my most embarrassing directorial lacunae) but next up is Camera Buff which has been sitting my shelf for two years waiting for the “right moment.” But back to the film at hand:

Double Life is the most visually warm movie I’ve ever seen. Every shot, regardless of color, seems to be lit by a fireplace’s glow. The visual approach brings together two elements I don’t think I’ve ever seen combined before: the extreme color saturation — golds, greens, reds — that feel more typical of stationary- and tracking-shot formalists like Jeunet, coupled with hand-held camera work typical of the spontaneity aesthetic. Since both the hues and movement emphasize the subjectivity of the viewer’s perspective, I’m surprised it never occurred to me how complementary they would be together.

Unlike the faux-documentary style of Greengrass et al, the hand-held camera here is not used to evoke confusion but instead imitates the freedom of a disembodied spirit — unrestricted yet under control. Never shaky, the camera is so steady in the hand of Slowomir Idziak that it is astonishing he never uses a stabilizer system.

It can’t really be surprising that this film jets straight into my personal Top Ten since it ticks so many of my boxes: doppelgangers, female protagonist(s), ghost POVs, golden lighting, Dante; it’s a Lynchian psycho-noir interpreted as a musical painting.

Visually (and thematically) it would make a great double-bill with De Palma’s Obsession or Glazer’s Birth. It might also interest some people to note that Amelie seems to have drawn from inspiration from more than one element, though the films themselves differ in tone.

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