The Double Life of Veronique Starring: Irene Jacob, Philippe Volter, Aleksander Bardini Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski The film: A name to strike terror into the hearts of mainstream film audiences, Krzysztof Kieslowski was one of the most prominent figures in popular art-house cinema of the late 20th century, thanks mostly to his 10-hour Dekalog (1988), The Double Life of Veronique (1991) and Three Colours trilogy (1993/94). Of these three, only Veronique has never before been available on DVD, and its recent limited-edition release by French label MK2 is the talk of the cinephile world, with some calling it the disc of the year. Irene Jacob (Au revoir, les enfants, Three Colours: Red) plays the French Veronique, and the Polish Weronika - two identical young women with a spiritual connection who never meet. When the latter dies, Veronique feels a sudden empty loneliness - and we're off into the Kieslowski psyche for a final hour that while beautiful in its imagery, can be heavy going, even exasperating, at times. Veronique receives a series of packages in the mail - a shoelace, a cigar box and finally an audio tape containing clues that lead her to a cafe where the mystery sender is waiting. That's about it plot-wise; this is a film most notable at first glance more for its powerful score, colour palette and Jacob's enchanting performance than anything else, although subsequent viewings reveal much more hidden detail and meaning. This was the director's first international project, and its budget, while modest by most standards, was more than his combined Polish output of the previous 25 years. At times it seems overworked, and too refined, as if he was determined to prove himself to an international audience following the worldwide success of Dekalog. Kieslowski re-edited the film dozens of times trying to find the right way to get his meaning across. The Three Colours trilogy, his next and last film work before his death in 1996, is easier fare and a more obvious starting point for getting to grips with one of the most admired, and feared directors of recent decades. The extras: Although promising at first glance, the extra features could be better. Conversation with Kieslowski (52 minutes) is fine, as is the 30-minute French-made documentary on the director's early career and the short Irene Jacob interview. The three short 1970s cinema-verite films that MK2 has included, while worth watching, are irrelevant to Veronique; others from Kieslowski's early career, such as The Tram or Concert of Wishes (both available in the excellent Miramax Three Colours box set), would have been better choices. An interesting touch is the inclusion of a mounted, six-frame film strip, each of which is numbered from one through 20,000 for this limited release. No liner notes are included and there is no commentary, which is something this film could do with. British label Artificial Eye will release Veronique on April 24, and while no details are available, it's probably worth waiting to see what it comes up with in the way of extras. Hopefully it will license this MK2 film transfer, as it is virtually flawless.