Friday, February 14, 2020

You Go to My Head: Memory, Love, and Architecture

Jutting out of the desert outside of Marrakesh, Fobe House looks like it could be the setting of a Chanel commercial directed by Bruce Weber. The white ultra-modern structures are not the sort of home you would forget. Yet, supposedly an amnesiac accident survivor has done just that, but the last thing her supposed husband wants is for her to recover her memory in Dimitri de Clerq’s You Go to My Head, which opens today in New York.

Dafne’s lover died in the land rover mishap and the desert would have finished her off too, if Jake hadn’t come along in the nick of time. She is dangerously dehydrated and suffering from shock-induced amnesia, but her physical strength will soon rebound. Jake initially acts out of compassion, but when the doctor presumes she is his wife, he just sort of goes with it. He even has a space for her to fill, left vacant by his wife Kitty, who apparently vanished several years ago.

Jake is an attentive nurse and also pretty good at crafting cover stories. Fortunately, Kitty’s clothes fit Dafne perfectly, when she choses to wear them. Nevertheless, she will inevitably start to question her real identity, because that is what happens in amnesia movies.

You Go to My Head is sort of a psychological thriller and sort of a romance, inhabiting the rarely trodden terrain between the two genres. De Clerq goes for mood and suggestiveness more than outright suspense, but that turns out to be a nice change of pace. Frankly, it is hard to resist any film that showcases the striking Fobe House (designed by Jake in the film and Guilhem Eustache in real life) and features two late-career tracks from Chet Baker: “I’m a Fool to Love You,” and the titular Coots-Gillespie standard. In fact, the latter’s lyrics are aptly suited to de Clerq’s dreamy and seductive vibe: “you go to my head/and you linger like a haunting refrain/And I find you spinning round in my brain/Like the bubbles in a glass of champagne.”

Delfine Bafort is convincingly conflicted and disoriented as Dafne/Kitty, and she develops some intriguing chemistry with Svetozar Cvetkovic, who really is terrific as Jake. Arguably, he makes some rather rash and problematic decisions, but he really conveys the pain and acutely human impulses that drives them.

Throughout the film, de Clerq masterfully controls the atmosphere and vibe, while cinematographer Stijn Grupping has a field day shooting Fobe House and the surrounding desert. Thanks to him and Baker, YGTMH looks and sounds fantastic. The two leads also playoff each other in smart and subtle ways. Highly recommended, You Go to My Head opens today (2/14) in New York, at the Quad Cinema.