Being married is a tough bit. Real-life relationships are complex and have many ups and downs. Big budget-produced films in the modern era usually fall under the same sappy trope that ends positively and is too neat and clean to apply to reality. However, when someone goes into the Indie genre of cinema and attaches a story about marriage, divorce, and relationships in general, you’ll get a real-world result. Such is the case for Robert Machoian’s The Killing of Two Lovers.
The film written and directed by Machoian features character actor Clayne Crawford and Sepidhe Moafi on the downswing of their marriage. If you check out the trailer, The Killing of Two Lovers comes off as Crawford’s character, David, slowly becoming unhinged. Yet, this is movie is something more.
From the beginning of the film, I felt a mass amount of unease and nervousness with the opening shot. I won’t spoil it because I believe that’s something the viewer must witness themselves to have an idea of what’s in store. Machoian’s direction is something that takes hold of how a marriage can define the people—good or bad. The cold look of the movie holds subtle contrast with the choices the director makes in his long-takes that are beautifully done. Machoian used these to fully absorb everything going on in the scene. He even put the movie in a 4:3 aspect ratio to hyper-focus on the interaction of the characters with one another and the emotions expertly flowing through the dialogue.
Speaking of which, Crawford and Moafi are damn good in this movie. I asked Crawford during an interview about what went into to accomplish the authentic feel of the two’s companionship between their characters. He said, “The town itself is I think, one mile in diameter and there’s nothing within 45 miles of any direction. So, we were kind of isolated in this little space.” The actor goes on to say, “That meant when we weren’t eating and when we weren’t sleeping or shooting, we were rehearsing.” And the movie shows that dedication that honestly needs to be awarded.
The acting between Crawford and Moafi is great but I believe that Avery Pizzuto’s portrayal of Jess, their daughter, deserves to be noticed. She helped carry the emotional weight of the film when it was time to showcase the struggles the kids are going through. There’s a scene featuring the launching of a toy rocket that perfectly brings the film to its absolute best. Machiona sets the camera and lets Pizzuto, Crawford, and a few others interact in a way that I felt was like watching a bright moment in someone’s home movie. Yet, it ends in a way that turns that bright moment into a gut-punch of raw feeling that was amazing.
However, with every bit of great acting comes someone that’s not so great. While the leads are memorable, I feel Chris Coy as Derek is the sluggish one in The Killing of Two Lovers. His character is so supposed to be a serious bump in the couple’s relationship, yet it seems that the casting director could’ve gotten anyone to play the role. At this moment, I’m thinking of Coy in the movie and his face is a blur to me. The man has had some decent work in the past, but it felt like he wasn’t suited well enough to bring anything else to the role other than an obstacle.
The movie goes on par with 2019’s Marriage Story. The Killing of Two Lovers is an examination of a marriage that may have begun way too early in the characters’ lives and what possibly could’ve become if a different path was taken. The movie still sticks with me to this day because of the raw nature of the plot, dialogue, and performance by some of the cast. Whatever topic Machoian will cover, I’ll be there wanting to hear what he has to say.