Robert Machoians Killing two lovers can be seen as NEON’s answer to Noah Baumbach’s 2019 Academy Awards Marriage historyin which a recently separated couple (Clayne Crawford & Sepideh Moafi) struggle to keep their family together. The father David (Crawford) wants to return to Nikki (Moafi). Even so, she has seen someone (Chris Coy) upset her children, especially teenage daughter Jess (Avery Pizzuto) who believes that her father has given up on her and is not struggling to stay together. It’s a simple film that only lasts 85 minutes but offers an incredible emotional punch with one of the best acting performances of the year by Clayne Crawford.
Its simplicity is further enhanced by its presentation. It’s shot at a modest 1.33: 1 aspect ratio (which jumps to 1.66: 1 during a sequence) to create a boxed-in feel that retains the characters’ main emotions. David doesn’t want to give up their marriage even though they agree to see other people during the breakup, but it feels like Nikki doesn’t care about him or his children, which creates tension for the couple as they desperate are finding reasons to stay together. David loves his family so much that he even wakes up his kids in the middle of the night to tell him the worst jokes you’ve ever heard, since he doesn’t spend time with them anymore and has to find new ways to keep them interested hold in it. This is one of the saddest sequences in the movie because we feel David’s desperation to spend as much time with his kids as possible, but he can’t because Nikki controls the house and his kids while David is forced to with his father live not to ask for anything. Crawford is recognized as a David and is doing his best to date by expressing his moral fear through loneliness and a limited achievement through his aspect ratio. The audience feels his raw strength and longing to stay with Nikki, but it distances itself again and again from David and culminates in the best scene in the film, which was shot with an aspect ratio of 1.66: 1.
The drama gradually evolves into this 1.66: 1 sequence – where we see firsthand what’s wrong with the couple: They don’t want to listen to each other because they don’t trust each other. Their relationship is fueled by toxicity as Nikki and David are in complete control of their children and want to love life without listening to their needs. They think their relationship will work if they don’t grow and continue to live in their own bubble, but soon they realize that it will be necessary to develop, grow, listen to each other for it to work, and not just for you them, but also for their children as well. The film is flawlessly shot by Oscar Ignacio Jimenez, who knows how to keep the purest form of emotions in a closed frame. When the aspect ratio [lightly] opens up, it’s a sign that the audience should look more closely than they originally did during the film’s quieter scenes, as its dramatic tension will now reach a boiling point. Without giving anything away, it’s one of the best-staged scenes of the year, staged in a staccato rhythm until it becomes a caricature.
I’m not sure if the final scene (after its dramatic tension) was the best way to end the movie Killing two lovers quickly ends in a goofy, almost anti-climactic ending that removes every ounce of emotion it has built up towards the two main cast and their own struggles to keep their families alive. While Crawford & Moafi’s acting is phenomenal – as they beautifully (and tragically) portray their own personal problems that tore their marriage apart, other performances are pretty goofy, particularly Avery Pizzuto’s Jess, who isn’t the least bit convincing in her role . She’s supposed to tell David how much he has to fight for her and how it’s not what she wants to be in a new family with a complete stranger, but her line delivery is so lukewarm that it almost feels like an unintended comedy feels. The same thing happens during its ending – which, oddly enough, turns into S. Craig Zahler in nature, with unnecessarily brutal, bizarre violence and caricature gestures from Crawford who now appears to be in a different film than the one in which he originally starred played.
It’s a strange way to end an otherwise emotionally charged movie with some of the best cast you’ll see all year round – with Clayne Crawford zooming in every ounce of screen time it’s in and you on his quest draws for redemption, and not just in the movie but personally too. It’s not an easy movie to watch, but one that is sure to stay in your mind if you like it or not. Some will loathe its presentation, others will admire it as a stroke of genius. On the other hand, I was puzzled by the overall display but found it incredibly impressive, largely because of its performances and cinematography. Take it how you want
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