The Killing of Two Lovers is the exact opposite of what you think it’s gonna be.
From the trailer, I thought it was gonna be a tense atmosphere thriller, which it is, but my big worry is it would be a sympathetic portrait of a wife-murderer, yet another tender look at the pitiable state of a white man denied his right to domestic bliss, and avenging what was his. You know, the usual toxic masculinity bullshit.
But it’s not. Or, it is about toxic masculinity, but it’s about grappling with it, not engrandising it. It starts at the place I expected it to end. It starts at the height of the crescendo. The main character stands before his sleeping wife and her lover, a gun in his hand. But this moment is not a culmination of tension looking for ecstatic release in violence. It is shown as the precipice of horror as the main character realises this is what’s become of his life.
And so the rest of the film is of him trying to find another way to deal with this problem. Not by kicking off his baggage and going to a counsellor to hug it out, coz life’s not like that. But you see him trying make more effort with his wife, trying to make more effort with his kids, and the whole time that tension is in the background. Does he know any way to handle this that doesn’t come cascading down in rage?
Because the film follows him through these cycles. As he tries to find some way of expressing the cacophony of emotions he’s feeling. And how, with frustration, it always ends up being funnelled into anger. Because that is the only emotion men are actually taught how to express.
So the structure of the film starts from this place of horror, and spirals through these attempts to pull away from it and finding its draw once more, each time the tension rising as you become more and more invested in the characters you’re getting to know.
Masterful build in tension, beautiful cinematography, wonderful acting, and actually surprising for what is such a by-the-numbers cliche of a premise. Will surpass your expectations.