The breakdown of any relationship is never easy, and it becomes even more complicated when there’s children involved. In The Killing of Two Lovers, David (Clayne Crawford) is desperately trying to keep his family together despite all the messy emotions. During a separation from his wife Nikki (Sepideh Moafi), the couple agree to see other people but it’s clear that David has a hard time coming to terms with this.

Nikki has moved on, she’s been having another relationship during their separation, and David can’t bear it. The couple share four children, three boys and a teenage girl, and there’s some regrets about starting their relationship too young. The film doesn’t spoon feed us all the drama and the whys and hows, but it’s clear it’s a complex situation and both are struggling with the breakdown of their once traditional family unit.

To try and navigate this situation, David moves into his sick father’s house, which isn’t too far away from his marital home. Meanwhile Nikki’s new boyfriend Derek (Chris Coy) starts spending the nights in their house, where the children also live. This prompts their daughter Jess to tell David that “mom is cheating on you”, which causes an argument when David explains that they agreed to see other people. But it’s not working.

The film’s title becomes immediately obvious in the first minute, where we see David standing over his wife and her lover as they sleep, pointing a gun at them both. But he can’t go through with it and flees back to the safety of his father’s home. We’re left shaken, wondering how a man could reach the point where he almost murders the woman he loves. And will he attempt to do it again?

Robert Machoian writes and directs this gloomy project, which closely examines the complexity of adult relationships and how children respond when their parents are struggling to keep things together. Interestingly, it’s hard to take sides in this situation and as an outsider, we just feel deeply sorry for everyone involved.

Each character feels very well-rounded and believable, and it’s a situation that many of us may be familiar with. Separation sucks for everyone involved, not just the couple, and it’s difficult to adjust to a new normal when you’ve lost a big part of your life.

The use of very long takes, sometimes minutes at a time, leaves the audience feeling uneasy and gives insight into David’s unstable state of mind. Paired with a droning score, this film is a deep-dive into one man’s psyche as he lives out the nightmare of his once perfect family life falling to pieces.

It’s a slow burn, but it keeps us engaged throughout, by closely following David, who is eerily calm and collected despite the turbulence in his life. He tries to socialise with his young sons, who are more receptive to his fatherly love than Jess, who is more brooding and worried about the fate of her parents’ marriage.

The Killing of Two Lovers is a fascinating character study, into one man whose family clearly means the world to him. Set against a backdrop of towering mountains and eerily quiet streets, this disruption to the status quo could end terribly, and I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see where this would all go.

Rating: ★★★★

  • Since publishing this review, the release of  The Killing of Two Lovers has been pushed to May 14 2021.