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The Double Life of Véronique [UK Release] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: Polish/French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Classification: 15
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Artificial Eye
  • Blu-ray Release Date: March 22, 2010
  • RRP: £19.99

[amazon-product align=”right” region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B002ZQX09A[/amazon-product]

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]

Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]

Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

The late Krzysztof Kieślowski’s (Three Colors Trilogy) The Double Life of Véronique was the Polish director’s 1991 international breakthrough, earning its star, Irène Jacob, the award for Best Actress at Cannes as well as instant critical praise for Kieślowski. Its story is almost opaquely perplexing, yet the film’s beauty, precipitated by the ethereal cinematography of longtime collaborator Sławomir Idziak and a haunting operatic score by Zbigniew Preisner, is a marvel to watch.

The film is set in two parts, the first being in Poland and the second in France, and the protagonists, both played by Jacob, are Weronika and Véronique. They are doppelgangers, living separate, but eerily similar lives. Weronika is a choir singer, Véronique a music teacher. The two are perhaps aware of each other on an emotional level, but they never meet, they only almost cross paths as Weronika spies her look alike through a bus window shortly before the film switches halves. Véronique, somehow sensing that all has gone wrong in the life of her double changes direction in her own life, making different choices and shifts into a period of self-examination.

Using color, shapes, shadows, reflections, and beautiful music, The Double Life of Véronique is a soulful blend of fantasy and introspective drama that is heavily reliant on its star, Jacob, to carry it through. From its opening scenes, the camera is intent to focus on her as we see Weronika singing in the rain. Jacob, perfectly able to shoulder the load, puts on a performance perhaps only rivaled by her eventual turn in The Three Colors Trilogy: “Blue.”

This is haunting, riveting, and complex all at once. It is beautiful to watch and fascinating to try to interpret.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The 1.66:1 AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encoding looks immaculately clean for a film from 1991, yet grain structure is retained and a film-like look is there. The production of the film lends itself well to a nice high definition presentation, so colors and shadings are presented well here, with good saturation and extended shadow delineation.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The Polish/French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack may as well be a stereo mix, because the surround channels barely add anything and low frequencies are practically nonexistent. With that being said, there is a good spread of sound across the front channels, particularly during times when the excellent score from Zbigniew Preisner is brought to the fore. Dialogue is clear and dynamic range is wide, but high frequencies can sound a bit tizzy.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

Documentaries, interviews and the added bonus of early short films from the director give the supplements of The Double Life of Véronique a lot of replay value.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • Conversation with Kieślowski (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:54.55)
  • Interview with Irène Jacob (1.78:1; 720p/24; 0:17.25)
  • Kieślowski, Polish Filmmaker (1.33:1; 720p/24; 0:31.53) — A short documentary on the career of Kieślowski.
  • Short Films (720p/24):
    • The Musicians
    • Factory
    • Hospital
    • Railway Station

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

The Double Life of Véronique is one of the classics of the latter-day European cinema. Upon its release it instantly moved onto the list of all time greatest films ever produced, and deservedly so. It is spellbinding to watch and it has been superbly rendered to high definition on Blu-ray from Artificial Eye.

Additional Screen Captures:

[amazon-product align=”right” region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B002ZQX09A[/amazon-product]

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