Movie Review: The Killing of Two Lovers

A man stands over a couple sleeping in their bed, and points a gun towards them, before losing his nerve and slipping unnoticed out the window. So begins Robert Machoian’s excellent film. We come to learn that the man is David (Clayne Crawford) and the bed was occupied by his wife, Nikki (Sepideh Moafi), and her new lover, Derek (Chris Coy). David and Nikki have separated, and he has moved back to his father’s house down the street. As evidenced by what just happened, he isn’t taking it particularly well. Neither is his teenage daughter (Arri Graham), who is acting out as a result.

David and Nikki had agreed that they were each free to see other people during the separation, though only Nikki had yet taken that step, and David is instead focused on the idea that he could still salvage their marriage, encouraged by Nikki’s agreement that she would try. It is pretty quickly clear however that David is unstable, as most times that we see him apart from his children, he is plotting to kill Derek or taking his rage out on inanimate objects. When he does have his daughter and three sons (Arri Graham, Bruce Graham, Ezra Graham) though, or when he is reminiscing in his truck with Nikki, we see a different side of him; a playful, sweet, kind man who just wants the people he loves to be happy and close. This helps to create a seesawing sensation between wanting him to succeed in getting his family back together and being in fear of what he might do if he fails.

This is a hard movie to describe in detail as it frequently defies expectations. The cinematography is beautiful, taking full advantage of the vast open spaces of the Utah countryside, and is also very deliberate with the placement of characters in the screen, David especially is often seen trapped in a corner. The score is really more aptly described as sound design, with various incongruous clicks, bangs, and slams adding to the tension established by the opening sequence. Crawford is excellent as David, effortlessly switching from doting father to grieving ex to embodiment of simmering male rage. The vein of menace pulsing just below the surface of the film make this unlike any examination of a failing marriage you’ve ever seen before. A near perfect film that will keep you in its grip from start to finish, and leave you with much to think about when it’s done. ★★★★★

Available for online rental.

Rated R for language.

★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor

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