You Go to My Head
Following a mysterious car accident in the desert, Dafne suffers from post-traumatic amnesia. Jake, the first person she sees when she regains consciousness, tells her he's her husband.
Dimitri de Clercq (written by/idea)
Rosemary Ricchio (written by)
Pierre Bourdy (written by)
Matt Steigbigel (idea)
Dimitri de Clercq
A perfectly scored film from yours truly.
And this particular film ranked as my “Best of Fest” (check out my wrap-up for the entire festival here) for the feature film offerings at this year’s FilmQuest (the 5th Annual) in Provo, Utah. This screening was the film’s Utah premiere.
You Go to My Head is something of an anomaly. It’s an art-house flick, through and through, and yet it’s also extremely engaging – through and through.
When Dafne (Delfine Bafort) wakes up from a devastating car accident in the middle of the desert, she has no idea where she is, who she is or where to go. On the verge of deadly dehydration, she is found by a man named Jake (Svetozar Cvetkovic), who nurses her back to health. The thing is, once Dafne regains consciousness (while still rife with amnesia), Jake tells her that he is her husband. He takes her back to his lavish desert home and they begin a life together – under these very false pretenses.
There are so many wonderful things throughout this film, but nothing will impress you more than the film’s stunning cinematography (an award winner at FilmQuest). Shot entirely with natural light (no joke), every single frame of this film is a piece of art. Stop the film here – gorgeous and frame-worthy. Stop the film there – breathtaking and inspired.
The Saharan desert locale (the film was shot in Morocco – at the architectural home of director Dimitri de Clercq’s mother) has rarely been so beautiful captured.
Matching the jaw-dropping power of the film’s award-winning cinematography, are the powerful performances from the film’s two leads.
Bafort delivers a mesmerizing performance. She’s fully nude for a great deal of the film – and if there was any discomfort from such a vulnerable performance, Bafort doesn’t let on. Of course, she’s got an extensive history in the modeling industry, so perhaps that experience empowered her for this brave role. She’s free as Dafne (or Kitty – as Jake renames her). And watching Bafort surrender as “Kitty”, and eventually fall into what she believes is her real life – is a fascinating journey to watch. Along with said surrender, there is constant doubt. You’ll never question Dafne’s actions. I mean, what would you do? There’s nothing around to make you question what your “husband” has told you. There’s so much beautiful nuance from Bafort – and you’ll delight in following her on her journey of true self-discovery – including all of the very emotional highs and lows she’ll inevitably experience along the way.
The sly, yet endearing acting work from Cvetkovic matches the emotional power of Bafort’s. Not knowing much about Jake’s past, you’ll never quite know what Jake’s ultimate intentions are. But you’re never without sympathy for Jake – right along with the inherent suspicion of him (taking Dafne’s side on that level). It’s a remarkable balancing act by Cvetkovic – impressive to feel so many battling things for one character.
And on the topic of character histories, we never truly get much background on Jake and Dafne (perhaps a very little bit for Dafne), and in this case (my reaction to “is it enough character history?” is taken on a film-by-film basis), I didn’t need to know more than what the screenwriters provided. The past of these characters isn’t necessary to understand the deep and almost cosmic connection they share.
There’s a moment late in the film, where an early sequence of Dafne moving through the home – is repeated. Once you realize where the filmmaker is taking you in this “repeat sequence”… well, it’s simply gasp-worthy. Again, in an “arty” picture, when you see something repetitive (taking advantage of the picturesque beauty of the film’s main location), it may seem inconsequential. But the revelation at the scene’s completion – was nothing short of brilliant.
The film is the pure definition of a “slow burn”. And we all know that getting this right is a fine line. But taking such time (the film runs at almost 2 hours) only brings the audience deeper into the characters and their various complicated situations. A truncated version of this story would not have given us enough time to properly love these characters and to properly build to the film’s final moments.
On that note, it’s always a shock to realize the depths to which you’ll become involved with any particular film. I was surprised to find myself in tears as the film came to a close – the stream of waterworks continuing all the way through the end credits and beyond.
The film’s final revelations are touching and surprising. Not necessarily on the level of The Sixth Sense as far as “OMG” secrets, but still quite striking. It’s not a direction you’ll expect the film to take. And I loved that almost Shakespearean possibility – a terrific misdirection.
Visually, and certainly via the sometimes jarring score (Hacene Larbi) – you’ll get a sense that the filmmakers were inspired by the work of Stanley Kubrick. Whether intended or not, there are even several “monolith-esque” structures on Jake’s property.
The swimming pool is a central location for Dafne’s new life. She’s constantly relaxing in the calm waters of this architectural beauty. And when a crack is discovered in the pool’s foundation, and the clear waters must be drained to address the issue – the subtle symbolism of this on-going act – had me nodding my head in appreciation.
It’s not easy for me to award a film with a perfect score. As my tastes have changed, and as I’ve honed my ideas as a film critic – it’s become apparent that a film can get everything right and still only garner a 4.5-star score (not a bad score, of course). To take that extra step into 5-star territory, a film must be an almost transcendental experience – something which goes beyond brilliant technical achievements.
A film has to move me.
And that is exactly what You Go to My Head did. I loved this film, and will go to the ends of the earth to proclaim such sentiments. When you experience something this moving and gorgeous and unique, you can’t help but spread the word.
Of course, I can’t expect that all audiences will agree with my take on the film. Again, it truly takes its time. And at its heart, You Go to My Head is a love story… albeit an odd (and if you really linger on it – a perverse) one.
Bottom line: You Go to My Head is an art-house film, taking turns which you’d never expect, which is also surprisingly accessible – a combination which is unusual. It’s a unique love story. It’s a psychological thriller. And it’s a marvelous venue to show off the talents of so many gifted artists.
You Go to My Head is – from my perspective – a perfect film. It’s a memorable masterpiece. In other words, it “went to my head”. And despite that tacky twist on the film’s title, the film has lovingly lingered in my brain – well over a week after the festival screening.
The film was nominated for multiple awards at the 2018 FilmQuest – including Best Picture, Best Director for a Feature – Dimitri de Clercq, Best Screenplay – Dimitri de Clercq, Rosemary Ricchio and Pierre Bourdy, Best Actor in a Feature – Svetozar Cvetkovic, Best Actress in a Feature – Delfine Bafort, Best Cinematography – Stijn Grupping (WIN), Best Editing in a Feature (secret nominee) and Best Score in a Feature.
You Go to My Head has done well on the international festival circuit. No wider release information is yet available.