Review by Camden Ferrell
The Killing of Two Lovers premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. The film comes from writer/director Robert Machoian. Calculated in its slow pace and occasionally brutal in its realism, this is a quaint story of a man trying to hold his life and family together.
David is currently living back home with his dad while on a trial separation from his wife, Nikki. They both agree to see other people, but David struggles with this as he tries to maintain his family, including four children. This is a simple story of a marriage falling apart. It’s nothing new, but this is a relatable story that has the potential for a lot of emotional exploration.
Machoian’s script is minimal, and it works more times than not. There are some moments that don’t make too much narrative sense and disrupt the flow of the movie. However, he revels in the film’s silence and lets his actors breathe a lot as a result. It leads to some great moments, and even though it’s flawed, the script feels like it fits his vision very well.
While the entire cast gives good performances, it’s hard to deny how talented of a leading man Clayne Crawford is. He gives a wide range of emotions in his performance, and his acting reveals how well he understands the emotional difficulties and conflict of separation. It’s awfully resonant throughout, and there are a handful of gut-wrenching moments that highlight his talent. Avery Pizzuto, despite her minimal screen time, also gives a promising performance as David’s daughter.
As mentioned before, its premise doesn’t break new ground, and it does sometimes feel limited in that regard. Machoian tries his best to give it a rural and more grounded spin, but it doesn’t do much to feel refreshing. Even though the quietness often works in the movie’s favor, it can feel too meditative for its own good at certain points throughout.
One of the most surprising aspects of this movie is its cinematography. It’s shot in a unique aspect ratio, and cinematographer Oscar Ignacio Jiménez has a keen eye for gorgeous shot composition. The camerawork is minimal, but it fits the nature of the movie perfectly, and it’s one of the most commendable parts of the movie.
Despite its pacing problems, the movie does succeed in capturing the challenges of separation and marriage. It’s a near-universal experience that will speak to countless people, and that kind of connection is priceless. It doesn’t say anything particularly new, but it does have passion in its creative voice.
The Killing of Two Lovers is a showcase for Crawford as a leading man and Machoian as a director. It may feel a little too familiar and slow, but it is an emotional story about one man trying to keep it together.
The Killing of Two Lovers is in select theaters and VOD May 14.