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Review: Stunning 'The Killing of Two Lovers' an unforgettable romantic drama

Courtesy of NEON


Robert Machoian’s “The Killing of Two Lovers” opens with the year’s most unforgettable scene where the main character David (Clayne Crawford), before we even get to know and understand who he is, pointing a fully loaded shotgun at his wife Nikki (Sepideh Moafi) and her lover Derek (Chris Coy) while they’re asleep. He hears a scuffle outside and sprints to his dad’s place down the road, a temporary living arrangement while he and NIkki figure out their relationship. She’s having second thoughts, feeling her and David got married too early and popped out three kids without thinking of the future.

What could have easily been a melodramatic interpretation on how two distraught individuals slowly grew apart, is actually a deeper meditation on what could bring them together. David clearly has anger management issues, constantly suffocated by his thoughts and the fear of losing Nikki, perfectly represented in Machoian’s use of a matted 1:33:1 aspect ratio. The separated couple split time evenly among the kiddos, but their eldest daughter Jess (Avery Pizzuto) is constantly feeling the pressure. She doesn’t like getting pushed and pulled in different directions and prays one of them eventually comes to their senses.

But that opening scene lingers throughout the entire film and it's a brilliant motif Machoian uses to keep viewers on edge. It doesn’t hinder the quieter, down to earth moments, especially a gentle scene where David and Nikki sit in the cab of a rusty pick-up, reminiscing about their past. But when Derek comes back into the picture, a scuffle ensues and you’re left to wonder: Is this it?

The emotional poignancy in “The Killing of Two Lovers” is of another breed, and the several eight-minute tracking shots Machoian utilizes for transitions is strikingly effective. Crawford and Moafi’s transcendent performances are the raw deal, touching and distraught because they clearly love each other, but struggle to find the words. We sympathize and weep for these characters as the performers never lose sight of what’s important.

You might have expectations for the narrative progression, however, “The Killing of Two Lovers” - gorgeously shot by cinematographer Oscar Ignacio Jimenez and scored with hellish silence - takes the viewer on a journey of self discovery. The main course might be slim picking for those looking for a meaty plot with robust conflicts - it runs a taunt 85 minutes - but getting lost in this timeless romantic drama with incredible performances is worth the minor cracks that exist on the inside.

Grade: A-

THE KILLING OF TWO LOVERS opens in select theaters and on digital Friday, May 14th


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