‘The Killing of Two Lovers’ Review: What Lies Beneath

Robert Machoian’s “The Killing of Two Lovers” opens like a crime thriller: A frantic man looms over his sleeping wife and her lover with a gun. Spooked by a noise, he runs off, and the camera follows him down an empty road in the Utah town where he lives with his ailing father. But a ticking time bomb of violence looms over this drama of a marriage, marked by his abjection and told in unpredictable long takes.

The man, David (Clayne Crawford, in a Casey Affleck sort of role), is temporarily living apart from his wife, Nikki (Sepideh Moafi). They take turns looking after their four kids and, within the bounds of their arrangement, she’s also seeing someone else (Chris Coy). But while Nikki looks to be letting their marriage drift away, David is all in.

On the edge between rugged and mountain man, David loves caring for their children, though his straight-shooting teenage daughter is a skeptic about the trial separation. Gray winter light washes out the flat ranchlands, and the big skies and pickup trucks (shot by the cinematographer Oscar Ignacio Jiménez in boxy 4:3) suggest faded snapshots from an old family album.

You never know when something in the air might tighten and snap, primed by a sound design that evokes creaking timber and phantom door slams. Machoian (who co-directed “God Bless the Child”) suggests that a single day of experience can cover the worries of wrangling youngsters, the ache of troubled romance, and the wildest rage. Accepting David’s murderous urges, the film lands on the enduring mystery of marriage’s bonds.

The Killing of Two Lovers
Rated R. Heated words. Running time: 1 hour 25 minutes. In theaters and available to rent or buy on Google Play, FandangoNow and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators. Please consult the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before watching movies inside theaters.

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