With the father-daughter relationship a predominant theme in all three stories, especially the first two, You Carry Me showcases the story of three women, dealing with Alzheimer’s, marital infidelity and the need for acceptance.
The first story is about Dora (Helena Beljan), a young girl who dreams of being a football manager and spends her days watching clips of a controversial manager and enacting those lines in front of her friends. She craves the attention of her father, who’s an outlaw, has been absent from her life for the past four years and has just come back into her life. This becomes a bone of contention with her mother, as she feels it’s her mother who pushed her father away.
The second story is about Ives (Lana Baric), who is a director of a soap opera and has to take care of her father (Vojislav Brajovic), who’s suffering from Alzheimer’s. As the story unfolds, you realise the toll this is taking on her. The pressure of a demanding job with an even more demanding personal life seems to bog her down day by day. Each day is a battle for her as she’s torn between taking care of her father and just letting it all go.
The third story is of Natasa (Natasa Dorcic), who is a producer and is pregnant and, in the beginning, comes across as the only one who seems to have a stable life, until the secrets start coming out.
All the stories are intertwined and cut back and forth between each other, showing what each character is going through and how each of them is different yet similar in terms of what they are dealing with and looking for in their lives, be it the need for acceptance or the dilemma between holding on and letting go or the need to put up a façade.
The movie does a wonderful job of showcasing how an illness like Alzheimer’s affects the family members or the caregivers as much as the one who’s suffering from it. It breaks your heart to see Ives go through the same ordeal day after day.
In the beginning, you might feel Dora and Ives are the ones who are going through a lot, but as the movie progresses, you realise Natasa is struggling equally, if not more, considering she has to put up this façade that everything is alright, portraying a put-together lie of being a producer and having a comfortable life.
The movie has some beautiful moments like when Ives and her father are dancing, where for a brief moment you see Ives forgetting all her worries and dancing like a little girl with her father, taking her back to the time when things were so much better. There are some other moments like Dora playing around in the fields, with her father and little brother, towards the end of the movie, and Natasa, singing aloud and dancing in the bar, which stays with you even after the movie has ended.
Along with the wonderfully written screenplay and direction, it’s the performances, every single one of them, that take the movie to a different level. You can’t take your eyes off Vojislav Brajovic, playing Ivan, a man who’s slowly losing himself to Alzheimer’s. Having lived with a person who has had Alzheimer’s, I know how people suffering from it have this expression of being lost, maybe from not being able to process their thoughts or not being able to form new memories. Vojislav brings that out beautifully. There’s not a single false note in his performance. No wonder he’s a veteran of the Serbian film industry.
Even Lana, who plays Ives, delivers such a powerful performance, bringing out the helplessness of her character. Every time you see her trying her best to manage both the worlds, you feel the pain she’s going through and realise how her whole life revolves around her father and her work and how she doesn’t have any time for herself. Helena Beljan, who plays Dora deserves a special mention for her fabulous portrayal of such a complex character. It’s not often that you get to see a young girl like her deliver such a powerful performance.
They say if you want to know about a country, watch their movies and I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful introduction to Croatia. With a runtime of a little over 180 minutes, it might feel a bit too long, but don’t let that deter you from watching a film that has got its heart in the right place.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.