Hania, a woman in her twenties, and Ewa, and her mother, go to see a psychotherapist to solve a problem. They have been unable to find common ground for years. They want therapy to break the deadlock in their communication. But is it the only reason why they decide to see the therapist?
Narrating the story of their psychotherapy, Łoziński asks indeterminate questions about the possibility of reconciliation and the sense of fixing broken relationships. He depicts people craving acceptance. Fighting for their relationship, the characters want to take the weight off their shoulders. The price doesn’t matter – even if purification entails causing pain to their loved one.
The title of the film speaks volumes. A declaration of love is connected with emotional blackmail. The words ‘you have no idea’ sound like a reproach of a loving person towards the loved one, who is unable to see the magnitude of the feeling. The titular sentence is uttered by one of the characters. Her words were supposed to assuage the pain, but they exacerbate the problem. In Łoziński’s film nothing is clear-cut or simple.
Maybe except for the form as such. The filmmaker consciously hides in the shadow. There are just three frames, three faces – of the two patients and their therapist. It is in the facial expressions that the entire drama manifests itself – loneliness, fear, desperate longing and inability to open up to the other person. Łoziński isn’t looking for any artistic key, doesn’t make anything convoluted, doesn’t add anything from himself. He sensitively observes the therapeutic process to tell a story of the little ‘vibrations of soul’, which may lead to purification.
Cinema as therapy
You Have No Idea How Much I Love You can be placed in the therapeutic trend in contemporary documentaries. It isn’t autobiographical, like the excellent Forget Me Not by David Sieveking or films by the Polish director Marcin Koszałka dealing with his family matters (Such a Nice Boy I Gave Birth To, Let's Run Away from Her and Jakoś to będzie [editor’s translation: It’ll Be Alright]). Nevertheless, intimate tones occur in Łoziński’s work and the viewer can feel that by talking about other people, the director is also saying something important about himself, his emotions and his comprehension of them.
This isn’t anything new, as Łoziński is describing the world he can see, figuratively speaking, behind his window, from the very beginning of his career. His notable film Chemo came into being because of the director’s mother illness – cinema was a way to accustom himself to the trauma. The Lady from Ukraine is about a Ukrainian housemaid, and A Just So Story – about four of his neighbours from the district of Powiśle, Warsaw.
In Father and Son, one of the best Polish documentaries in the past decade, Łoziński filmed himself and his father. During a two-week road trip they spoke about problems which have emerged between them throughout the years. The film was supposed to serve as a means to purify of their relationship. But artistic fulfilment was not tantamount to therapeutic success. Instead of creating one film, Paweł Łoziński and his father, Marcel Łoziński, decided to create two separate works. Together they constitute a fascinating, yet sad story about wounds inflicted on each other.
Disarming the words
You Have No Idea How Much I Love You is, in a sense, a continuation of that story.
The film displays the mechanism psychotherapy relies upon. Five meetings that the characters have with Professor Bogdan de Barbaro, an eminent psychotherapist from Kraków, is a journey through a minefield full of dangerous feelings. The two women, led by the therapist, learn to disarm their feelings step by step. Words turn out to be the key to building a good relationship. They allow them to get accustomed with the reality of emotions – when what one feels is named, it’s easier to control it, understand it and try to confront it with what others feel.
Having made Father and Son I needed proof that a kind of conversation that makes it easier for people to live with each other or separately, is possible. You Have No Idea How Much I Love You shows such a conversation.
In a country where psychotherapy is treated with distrust or ironic distance, and people struggling with mental issues are stigmatized in the media and political speeches, Łoziński’s film is truly a breath of fresh air. It’s worth seeing to understand that psychotherapists are not charlatans or showmen commenting on other people’s life in TV shows, but also people who, like professor de Barbaro, are full of attention and wisdom. And to see how universal human feelings – longing and pain – are.
- You Have No Idea How Much I Love You, directed and written by Paweł Łoziński, cinematography Kacper Lisowski, film editing by Dorota Wardęszkiewicz
Author: Bartosz Staszczyszyn, translation: Natalia Sajewicz, June 2016