FACIAL ANALYTICS : IDFA EDITION

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How much is too much?

At IDFA, Watching Pawel Lozinsky’s new film “You have no idea how much I love you” the question hung there, in every exchange, every cut. An experiment in form, the film is the simplest of concepts: a mother, a daughter, a therapist, 3 cameras, and extreme close ups only. 5 Therapy sessions filmed weeks apart chart the evolution of relationships, the heightening of tension, and tension’s release.

Each face that takes space on the screen is laid naked by the unforgiving close ups, every twitch, every movement of the iris telling a critical part of the story.

“That’s a nasty look,” says the therapist, when the mother involuntarily changes expression. “I’m juts trying to understand,” she replies. But true enough, under intense scrutiny, our faces can betray our real feelings, or be completely misinterpreted through the prism of our own experience.

With 3 camera angles to chose from, and such a subtly complex exchange of glances to play with, the editing, as Lozinsky himself said, was really, really difficult. Is it more potent to see a mother’s pain as she tries to explain her past behaviour, or the stoic, blank face of her daughter, as we wonder whether she’s interested at all? Or even the therapist’s intense, analytical stare, as he looks to interpret every syllable of every word.

The choices made, in the end, don’t edge towards that exploitative path. We don’t linger long on a reaction or an analyst while we hear the subject. Arguably we don’t linger there enough. At a given point, once the dynamic and language are established, I believe the editing could have veered further away from its matter of fact position. There was, in all likelihood, a wealth of possibility to explore that could have released another level. Like when someone you know is saying something publicly, and the person they’re talking about is there, and you find yourself much more interested in the person’s reaction than the person speaking. It’s not a clinical film by any stretch, but I think the form could have been taken further.

So maybe the question should be reframed as “how much respect is too much.”

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