May 10th, 2021
MOVIE: THE KILLING OF TWO LOVERS
STARRING: CLAYNE CRAWFORD, SEPIDEH MOAFI, CHRIS COY
DIRECTED BY: ROBERT MACHOAIN
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 4 STARS (Out of 4)
There’s much to be said about movies that know how to hook you in with the basics of life. The Killing of Two Lovers is about a family of six, where the mother and father are in the midst of a separation; It’s difficult for the children, and the mother has started to see someone else, making it stressful for everyone. The title alone leaves a lot of anticipation to be expected, but director Robert Machoain’s direction is not about what could happen, but about what is happening. The tension is pulled tight from the get go, with high emotions, a real-life scenario that anyone can relate with, and spectacular direction. The Killing of Two Lovers is enthralling and gut wrenching family theater.
The opening shot sets the tone. We see David (Clayne Crawford) standing over a bed, pointing a gun at Nikki (Sepideh Moafi), sleeping deeply next to her new boyfriend Derek (Chris Coy). We next see, in a long tracking shot, David climbing out the window, walking down the block to his home, putting the gun in his car, and getting ready for work. What follows is the rest of the day, as if something never happened; David picking his three boys up for school and chatting with Nikki about their situation. The tension hangs overhead and what follows is the reality about a family struggling with change. The love has faded from David and Nikki. The oldest daughter is struggling the most. Changes of who spends time with who in the family, especially David, who is dying on the inside, because he can only see his kids once on the weekend. What remains is the fear of something worse happening, a major fight, or an explosive domestic occurrence.
Written and directed by Machoain, The Killing of Two Lovers succeeds because it feels incredibly real. It’s impossible to see it without tapping into the films of an artist such as John Cassavetes, where the dialogue, the cinematography, and the performances look like we’re watching a documentary on this family. The camerawork by cinematographer Oscar Ignacio Jimenez is observing and tracking, where we stay inside the car when David and Nikkie decide to have a date-night that ends up never happening. It’s broken up by the kids needing them and they drive around the block, have a long talk, and leave it there. To live vicariously through this family and their situation is to see them as humans, it’s to have a shred of understanding for how difficult it is to be a parent, a teenager living through it, the heartbreak, and the survival.
Watching The Killing of Two Lovers, it struck me that this is 2021’s equivalent to 2020’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always. It’s a film with relatively unknown actors and a look that captures the moments. The movement and the pace of films like this create a natural crescendo, where the characters are established early, and now we are watching their lives unfold. Even though the opening sequence is jarring, The Killing of Two Lovers has us rooting for David as a father. He takes the kids to the park to shoot off toy rockets, he’s making the effort to be a better husband for Nikki, but we also know that he has an unstable side. The dramatics can change in an instant and when we know the potential of David and the new boyfriend having a confrontation, it’s like walking on pins and needles.
The success of a film like The Killing of Two Lovers is how great independent cinema can still exist. Similar to the success of Nomadland or a film such as Babyteeth, we believe in the characters, walk in their shoes for a brief moment, and can relate with just about every human reaction. The praise belongs to Robert Machoain, with excellent writing, and editing as well. The Killing of Two Lovers is easily one of the best movies of 2021. Now I implore you to go and see it because you have to find out how it all goes down. This is how cinema can leave a mark, shocking at the center, leaving you with a lingering of various emotions.
THE KILLING OF TWO LOVERS IS PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS MAY 14TH
Written by: Leo Brady