Publication: TheLondonEconomic, 17th February 2018
Warning: this review contains a possible spoiler
The premise of Polish ‘documentary’ You Have No Idea How Much I Love You (original title: Nawet nie wiesz, jak bardzo cie kocham) is that an adult daughter Hanna (Hanna Maciąg) and mother Ewa (Ewa Szymczyk) are seeing renowned therapist Bogdan De Barbaro after growing apart since Ewa’s divorce and increasingly distant behaviour hurt Hanna deeply.
Visually the film is deliberately barren, alternating between close-ups of the trio in a windowless, colourless room. This leads to a heavy dependence on subtitles, and even then it’s impossible to catch all that is being said.
The fundamental discussion, that Hanna and Ewa can repair their relationship if each makes more effort to see each other’s side of the coin, is wrapped up by Bogdan in the first twenty minutes of the film. Alas, the audience still has an hour left with these two.
Bogdan starts delivering cliches like ‘you only learn to fly when you’re falling’. Ewa takes every opportunity to talk about herself, while Hanna likely wishes she had brought her mobile. Ewa tells a somewhat affecting story about her desire for a dog as a child, and Hanna agrees to come round for dinner sometime. Fin.
Then any few moments of engagement in the film are completely betrayed by the end credits. Screens translate as: ‘For reasons of confidentiality, we were unable to film any genuine family therapy sessions. In reality Ewa and Hania are not mother and daughter. They drew on their own personal experiences without the use of a script.’
Plot twist: what appeared to be a fleetingly involving if an overlong piece of observational cinema was actually a work of glorified ad lib in a basement. Filmmaker Pawel Lozinski may think he’s made some great statement on the modern blurring between reality and fiction in the documentary genre, but actually, he’s wasted everyone’s time.