This Sundance hit offers a deluge of raw emotion

Film by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

The Killing of Two Lovers
Theatres and VOD
Opens May 14

4 out of 5

As beginnings go, few movies open more provocatively than The Killing of Two Lovers. A man stands over his bed, now occupied by his wife and another guy, both fast asleep. He’s holding a gun, and pointing it at the unsuspecting couple. He doesn’t pull the trigger, but the possibility hangs in the air.

It’s a hard scene to live up to, but The Killing of Two Lovers does it by plunging into the psyche of a simple man and his frustrated wife. Separated by mutual agreement, David (Clayne Crawford, Rectify) is trying to keep his side of the bargain. But seeing his wife Nikki (Sepideh Moafi) dating another man breaks him. In turn, she’s careful not to dash his hopes for reconciliation. But it’s clear she’s ready to move on.

We also see David and Nikki interact with their four children, only one of whom (the eldest daughter) is able to grasp the unfolding drama. By getting to know the family, one is less inclined to assign blame. Alas, it’s clear only Nikki is emotionally mature enough to handle the break up. Lacking the tools he needs to deal with his rage, David is reduced to unloading his gun on a dummy he sets up in a field to vent.

Made for US$32,000, The Killing of Two Lovers makes the most of its paltry budget. Shot in a small Utah town, the isolation is palpable, and makes the protagonist’s desperate desire to keep his family together more understandable. There’s literally nothing else for him.

Written, produced, directed, edited (and likely catered) by Robert Machoian, The Killing of Two Lovers is a deluge of raw emotion. It’s the kind of movie that both engages you, and leaves you unsettled by refusing to unfold the way you expect.