'You Go to My Head': Film Review

You Go to My Head Still 1 - First Run Features Publicity -H 2020
Courtesy of First Run Features
Gorgeous visuals and outstanding performances enhance this slow-burn drama.

A lonely man attempts to convince a beautiful younger woman suffering from amnesia that she is his wife in Dimitri de Clercq's psychological thriller.

Dimitri de Clercq's feature is titled You Go to My Head, but it would be more accurate to say that it goes to your eyes. From its desert landscapes to its principal setting of an architecturally distinguished house to its extremely photogenic lead actress, every frame of the psychological thriller proves visually stunning to behold. While the film never manages to achieve the level of suspense that would make it dramatically riveting, it certainly earns its art house credentials on a purely visceral level.

De Clercq, a veteran producer (Café au Lait, The Golden Boat, Time Regained), crafted this exercise for its female star, Belgian actress/model Delfine Bafort (Eventide, Steve + Sky), and the dedication shows. Bafort, frequently seen nude, becomes an object of adoration for the camera, which seems to practically caress her. Although the resulting voyeuristic effect is disturbing at times, it proves effective for this tale about a lonely man who goes to desperate lengths to find love.

The story begins with a car accident that leaves the male driver dead and the female passenger, Dafne (Bafort), wandering injured and alone in the Saharan desert and at risk of succumbing to dehydration. She's found by the much older Jake (Sevetozar Cvetkovic), an architect, who takes her to a doctor. When the doctor assumes that the beautiful young woman, who is suffering from amnesia as a result of her travails, is Jake's wife, Jake impulsively decides to take her to his stunning desert home, which he designed himself. He informs her that her name is Kitty and that they've been happily married for several years.

Kitty slowly adjusts to the situation, frustrated by her lack of memories but comforted by Jake's patient kindness and the beauty of the dwelling that features a swimming pool filled with perfectly turquoise-blue water. She becomes more and more used to the idea that she's resumed her former life, eventually succumbing to Jake's advances even as he becomes increasingly nervous that she'll find out the truth.

It's a provocative setup for a thriller, but de Clercq is less interested in exploiting the Hitchcockian suspense dynamics (although he's admitted that Vertigo is a primary influence) than creating an atmospheric mood piece more akin to Kubrick or Antonioni. The film features several all-too-obvious symbolic elements, such as cracks appearing in the swimming pool that forebodingly imply plot developments to come. When the couple go on a road trip to relive their supposed honeymoon, the sequence is rendered via a series of still photographs resembling vacation photos. At another point, they make love in a sand dune, their naked coupling resembling a Calvin Klein commercial shot by Bruce Weber.

It's all ultimately a bit too stylish for its own good, and the exceedingly slow pacing doesn't help matters. But the movie nonetheless casts a spell, thanks to the hypnotic visuals (director of photography Stijn Grupping shot the pic entirely using natural light) and the very effective, understated performances by the two leads. Veteran Serbian actor Cvetkovic subtly and movingly makes clear Jake's desperate loneliness, making the character uncomfortably sympathetic despite the monstrous deception he's perpetrating. And Bafort delivers a mesmerizing, fascinatingly enigmatic turn that keeps us fully invested in her character's fate. By the time You Go to My Head reaches its surprising conclusion, you will have become thoroughly caught in its mysterious grip.

Production companies: CRM-114, The Terminal
Distributor: First Run Features
Cast: Delfine Bafort, Svetozar Cvetkovic, Arend Pinoy
Director-producer: Dimitri de Clercq
Executive producers: Thomas Gottshall, Evelyne Faure, Lionel Lambert
Screenwriters: Dimitri de Clerq, Pierre Bourdy, Rosemay Ricchio
Director of photography: Stijn Grupping
Editor: Tobias Beul
Composer: Hacene Larbi
Costume designer: Marielle Robaut

116 minutes