Picks and Pans Review: The Double Life of Veronique

updated 12/09/1991 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/09/1991 01:00AM

Irene Jacob

Veronika and Veronique (both played by Jacob) are, unbeknownst to one another, physical doubles and spiritual soulmates, born under the same star in 1966. One is Polish, the other French. They share a devotion to music, deeply felt romantic passions and a lyrical sense of life's romantic promise. Each has a vague emotional awareness of the other but no physical evidence save a snapshot that Veronique, as a tourist behind the Iron Curtain at the moment of its breakdown in 1990, unwittingly took of Veronika in Krakow.

Director Krzysztof Kieslowski, whose 1988 film The Decalogue earned plaudits in Europe for its 10-part depiction of Warsaw life as viewed through each of the Ten Commandments, is an often maddening virtuoso of the enigmatic. In the dual lives of Veronika/Veronique he may well be commenting on the dislocation felt by Eastern Europeans who in the post-Soviet vacuum suddenly find themselves suffused by Western life. In any case, Kieslowski, as he weaves complementary tales of life lost and hope realized, knows how to intrigue an audience—and in Veronique, the agent of intrigue is Jacob, who won the Best Actress Award at this year's Cannes Film Festival for her twin portraits. A luminous, full-lipped beauty with eyes as dark and entrancing as an underground spring, Jacob also shows an instinctive emotional empathy for her characters that can only ripen in the coming years. (R)

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