Love stories are usually told through an emotional point of view where we transport ourselves to happy places, and the ending is usually where the romance triumphs, Usually the traumas, pain, jealousy and disappointments are part of a different world and don’t interfere with our ‘ideas’ of how romance is supposed to be. In case that’s what you’re looking for, “THE KILLING OF TWO LOVERS” from writer/director Robert Machoian, is not that movie. Instead it’s a shoutout to what the pain that a break up of a relationship where the two main people involved, still possibly love each other, but have realized that no matter how good their intentions are, or no matter how many promises have been made, they might just be better apart.
The story takes place in small town, middle America. David (Clayne Crawford), and Nikki (Sepideh Moafi), are a couple in crisis. They were high school sweethearts who married young and now have four children, a teenage daughter Jess (Avery Pizzuto) and her three much younger siblings. They are on a trial separation and David has moved literally a few hundreds yards away, to his Dad’s house. As the opening scene unfolds in front of us, we realize it’s David holding a gun pointing it directly at his wife and her new partner Derek (Chris Coy), while they sleep, seeming to imply that, and referring to the title, there may be more than just two lovers who could die here. Needless to say, the mere fact that Nikki is dating another man and he’s sleeping in the same house as his kids, is not something David deals with well. He wants things to return to ‘normal’ because he truly doesn’t understand that the issue at hand here, might just be him. Nikki wants things to change because as they’ve basically grown up together as a couple, as with all things turning adult, people change as well, and yet David’s temperament or lack of emotional temperament, does seem to get the best of him at times.
But it’s truly director Machoain and his drawing here of the average American man facing the deterioration of a something he treasures so very much, his wife and his family, and essentially his way of life. Crawford is truly splendid in this role in which he gives us an emotional rawness to his performance — of a type of internal struggle that escapes the usual theme that a film explores. Even the kids here, especially his teen daughter played by Pizzuto, just gives so much to how they feel about what is happening to their world. It is also beautifully filmed with backdrops and shots of perfection based on light and shadows, that just adds to the feelings you experience while watching. The only flaw is perhaps not fleshing out how the crisis of David and Nikki evolved before making the decision to separate temporarily, how they came to this solution, and what exactly happened to open the Pandora’s box of problems presented in the film. There seems to be a bit of an imbalance in the relationship between the two as shown on the screen, and it is perhaps due to the fact that David’s character is much better defined than that of Nikki, as not only does she have way less screen time, but we barely get to know her to see why her attitudes and decisions are made the way they are, making them seem less justified.
Taking away all that, the films is a stark look at love. Beautifully filmed, wonderfully acted, told in an style that makes us all take a good look and think. It truly deserves a watch.
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Review Screening: Courtesy of ~ Ginsberg/Libby PR
“THE KILLING OF TWO LOVERS” is out in theaters and on demand on Friday, May 14, 2021