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VOD Review: The Killing of Two Lovers

May 14, 2021

By John Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

The messy breakdowns of marriages and family units are fertile ground for indie films, and writer-director Robert Machoian adds an element of suspense to the genre in his sparse, minimalistic drama The Killing of Two Lovers.

The film revolves around David (Clayne Crawford), a working class father of four. He is in the midst of a trial separation from his wife Nikki (Sepideh Moafi), and they have both mutually decided that it’s okay to see other people during this time.

David has gone back to live with his aging father (Bruce Graham), who lives down the road in their small town. But, as tensions start to arise between David and Derek (Chris Coy), the new guy that Nikki is seeing, the dynamic between them threatens to explode into jealous violence.

I knew pretty much nothing about The Killing of Two Lovers before watching it, and found the film to be gripping throughout almost every moment. Machoian’s screenplay allows a lot of things to be alluded to through extended dialogue scenes, which makes us feel like witnesses to the often fraught conversations between family members. It’s all built around an excellent performance by Crawford. While the actual plot of the film is kept fairly simple, there is a tension to it that feels like it could blow up at any time, a feeling that is heightened by the film’s startling opening scene and dramatic, foreboding title. And, in certain moments, things do blow up, with the characters exploding into arguments.

There is a claustrophobic feel to the film right from the get-go, strapping us in as observers to the broken lives of these characters. The film is presented in a square 4:3 aspect ratio that makes them feel boxed in, with cinematographer Oscar Ignacio Jiménez finding many interesting ways to frame them. They are often shot from a distance, and other times locked in close-ups, including during long scenes in David’s pickup truck that make us feel like we are cramped in the front bench with the characters. The film further draws us in through some unique sound design.

The film unfolds through a series of long takes, showing us just what we need and nothing more to offer a brief but surprisingly compelling glimpse into this world. The barren Utah landscapes add to the stark mood of the piece, with nary a structure in sight above two stories and mountains often in view in the background. Amplified by naturalistic performances from its entire cast, and always believable dialogue, The Killing of Two Lovers is a small but powerful drama that, at 85 minutes long, feels stripped down to its essential elements to leave a lasting impact.

The Killing of Two Lovers is now available to watch on a variety of Digital and VOD platforms. It’s being distributed in Canada by Elevation Pictures.

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