Family therapy in five acts by Willemien Sanders
November 16, 2016
What lies hidden behind the word “love”? Two women meet in a psychotherapist’s consulting room. In an intimate dialogue between these three people, psychological injuries from the past and deeply concealed emotions gradually come to the surface. The therapist takes the women on a difficult journey towards a better relationship.
You Have No Idea… testifies to the importance of opening scenes. Daughter Hania kindly asks her mother Ewa if she wants to start the session. She looks at her, doubt seems to creep in. The therapst, prof. Bogdan de Barbaro, just looks from one to the other; mum looks away. There is something about to happen here…
You Have No Idea… shows family therapy in five acts. These are clearly delineated: introduction and problem-setting, starting point of the problem, effect on the one, effect on the other, and closure to move forward. Lozinski contrasts the complex content of the fim with an extremely stylized form. All shots consist of close ups of the three protagonists and although a shade of one of the others is visible every now and then, which points to a multiple camera registration, the close ups of the faces separate the three individuals and ties them closely to their role as mother, daughter and therapist. A neutral, grey background and flat lighting provide no escape from the central faces. Black screens separate the different sessions but the constellation of the triangle of people remains the same throughout. The camera observes, but not quite, as the editing of faces in relation to what is being said, can be read as a comment.
Behind this straightforward and simple surface devoid of any decoration is the knot that needs to get untied. With so little diversion, we can put our complete attention to what the two women have to say and how the therapists does his work: he listens, keeps the focus, takes the flak, probes to make sure feelings are described accurately and precisely, provides comfort, challenges, and functions as lightning rod, all in he most attentive manner imaginable.
The sessions revolve around the loneliness of the mother and the alienating effect it had – or mum’s related behaviour had – on her daughter. An overwhelming yet suffocating love stands between them. Communication between the two has come to a halt as a result. Slowly the related bits of family history are revealed and we come to understand the traumas and the situation of both women. And by persisting in the need to find the right words to describe feelings and phrase them exactly and precisely, the therapists teaches them to utter themselves and thus to communicate properly. The film also testifies to the difference between therapeutic films and films on therapy. The former serve as therapy for the filmmaker but ar rarely relevant or meaningful to an audience. The latter, of which You Have No Idea… obvisouly is one, reveal something about the way people get hurt and how to deal with that. In this case, it is the emotion of love that is at the core of the a complex problem.
Łozinski is well known for his films about people: observational studies of behaviour. In You Have No Idea… he, with the therapist, slowly but carefully unravels the devastating effect people can have on each other without knowing or realizing it, let alone intending it. Despite the fact that it is a 75 minutes film with talking heads, which sounds horrible, I watched with fascination.
At the end, there is twist, which some may have more problems with than others. For those who trust in the power of stories to provide insight in the human condition, this film can be very rewarding. For those who seek the truth, it might be more troublesome.