Thursday, 3 June 2021

The Killing of Two Lovers (2020)

What a visual delight this film is. Forget the storyline, look at the imagery - beautifully created and executed by director/writer/producer Robert Machoian. It really is a feast for the eyes and well worth grabbing when you get the chance (or pay Curzon Home Cinema) for this alone.

There is a story of course, and it's a very ordinary, everyday story about a family who are trying to stay together. David and Nikki got hitched up and pregnant right out of school and have not known much else. They have four kids, an older teenage girl and three younger boys, but mum and dad have made a terribly adult decision to try a break from each other (the story never tells us really why) and that during that break, they would be free to see other people.

David goes to live with his dad while Nikki looks after the kids in the family home. They seem hopeful about getting back together, though he apparently more so than her as she takes a lover. The opening scene is a powerful one as David stands over the bed of his sleeping wife and her lover, gun in hand, and we think instantly that this is The Killing of Two Lovers. But it's not. Though it does give us an instant insight into the mind of David and how he's coping with the new situation.

The director is not afraid to linger on close-ups, play with focus to good effect, stick a camera in one position and let the scene move for itself and generally make pretty much every frame of the film an image worthy of a wall framing. The style of Fargo or The Handmaid's Tale as every frame is carefully considered. Placing the camera on the driver's door of the car, fixed focus, while the scene plays out, driving is done, conversation engaged in, is a favourite trick which, again, works really well.

Most of the cast are relatively inexperienced in film, much TV work, but each of them perform their parts to perfection. Particularly Clayne Crawford as David, Sepideh Moafi as Nikki and a great performance by Avery Pizzuto as Jess, the teenage girl. She's old enough to understand what is going on but not old enough to get herself out of the situation. There's one scene in the car with dad where she excels, holds herself in prolonged pose whilst expressing by voice and face the stress and anxiety that her character is feeling.

David is doing well, holding it together, even going out on 'date night' with Nikki as agreed they would, until stresses boil over and there is a confrontation with Nikki's lover. Prior to this, there's a creepy scene as David follows the lover into a 'one stop' shop, the lover not knowing who David is, and they get uncomfortably close. There are numerous great scenes like this and although the story is a very simple one, they also help to carry the audience forward keeping interest high.

The cinematography is further enhanced by the outdoor setting of this small town America where there's loads of open space and a skyline littered with hills and mountains. Big open dusty roads and loads of room between houses and the few shops and facilities.

It's a great little film, superbly presented by a small team with a real 'indie' feel to it. It's engaging and enjoyable throughout mostly down to the fabulous camera work and director using that to get the best from the cast. I can't praise the visual delight highly enough here. As for the title, well you can make your own mind up as to what that actually is about when you come to the end. Super film, highly recommended.

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