Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Ugly Masculinity

The Killing of Two Lovers (2021) - Machoian Screen Shot 2021-06-02 at 11.49.18 AM There is nothing more ugly than the desplay of toxic masculinity on or offscreen. Robert Machoian's The Killing of Two Lovers zeroes in on David (Clayne Crawford) as he thinks of killing his etranged high school sweetheart wife and her lover while they sleep in bed. Yes David and Nikki (Sepideh Moafi), married with 4 kids in rural Utah, are separated and David has moved in with his ailing dad for the time being while they figure out their situation. Boys are too young to know what's happening, but their teen daughter is deeply unhappy. Machoian places us in David's head who can't really think about anything else but getting back together with Nikki even though they can't really communicate with each other without every conversation ending in a shouting match.

Letting-out-of-steam sequences - punching the exercise dummy (Body Opponent Dummy) until his knuckles bleed and taking BOB out to the field to use as a target practice tells everything about David's mindset and it's ugly. Him serenading a song about their breakup and hopes for getting back together during a date night is both pathetic and pitiful. At the end, his toxic masculinity is undone by another toxic masculinity. And Nikki choosing over lesser toxic of the two is... well, less than desirable outcome and says a lot more about her than needed.

It doesn't really matter that the movie was shot in full frame with painterly gaze. I don't care about the long takes or effective extreme close up photography, because the theme of the film is so cliché, uninteresting and undeserving. If Machoian's job was commenting on the pervasiveness of toxic masculinity in America, it's fine. But that doesn't have to be a movie- because we live with it in our daily lives.