The Killing of Two Lovers

Written by Michael Clawson

70/100

The Nest in flyover country; tense marriage and family drama dressed up as a crime thriller rather than a horror movie, set amid the barren, snow-dusted streets and fields of small-town Utah in winter rather than the gloomy British countryside. In other words, The Nest meets Wildlife (or Certain Women, except the gap between my fondness for that movie and Machoian’s is too enormous for me want to underline that connection). 

Machoian’s eye for the setting – the worn brick houses, the wide roads, the vast swaths of land – does a lot of the heavy lifting for me. I like that he uses long takes to not just sustain tension, but also to establish and explore space: it’s all the more difficult for David to shake the thought of his wife sleeping with another man when the house she’s doing it in is only an easy jog down the street. I also like his framing, like when David takes the kids to the park to launch rockets, and Machoian stages the action off to the left, all the negative space off to the right holding the unease that eventually releases when the daughter snaps. Other choices are poorly judged, like the extreme close ups when David and Nikki go out on their date.

A potential for violence is the film’s fuel for suspense, but I sometimes didn’t feel like David’s stifled rage and his fatherly gentleness were two sides of the same coin. It’s more like Machoian hints at David’s interiority only when he thinks he needs to shovel more coal in the fire of movie’s genre engine. At the risk of belaboring the comparison, where The Nest’s tension is diffuse and vague (my preference), the source of suspense in The Killing of Two Lover’s is more concentrated, and tapped in some minorly gimmicky ways.

The Killing of Two Lovers Trailer

The Killing of Two Lovers is available to stream on Hulu and rent or purchase on major VOD platforms.

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