The Killing of Two Lovers (Robert Machoian, 2021)
Imprisoned within the almost square of the film ratio, David (Clayne Crawford) is poised at the start to shoot a sleeping woman or the person next to her. He is interrupted by the sound of a flushing toilet.
We soon learn that the woman is his estranged wife, Nikki (Sepideh Moafi), and the other person is her lover, Derek (Chris Coy). They married out of high school, have a large number of children and he trying to provide for them as an odd job man. He also risks missing taking them to school or seeing them grow up, but he, at least, thinks they are on a break. Our sympathy for him ebbs and flows; despite the gun and obvious anger issues, he is not an example of toxic masculinity and some of his dialogue undercuts the notion that he doesn’t have the emotional language to deal with the situation. It is not a marriage of frustrated brain and brawn.
Equally, the film could be fairer to Nikki and develop her frustrations as working mother more — it’s actually easy to assume she is being unreasonable. Perhaps she needs to be more honest with him.
The film has a great way of trapping us within the washed out mise en scene as we follow from within or behind the truck David drives, together with a disturbing, industrial sound track, a gun being readied, among other noises. We are being built up for violence and to question our understanding of the nice guy.
I can’t really discuss the ending, save to note that it is unexpected and leaves us without catharsis. That really can’t end well, is what I was left thinking.
And all praise to an 84 minute running time. Less is more.