EIFF 2015 – One & Two
Andrew Droz Palmero’s One & Two focuses on two siblings cut off from the world because of a supernatural ability that they share.
The basic idea is that Eva (Kiernan Shipka) and Zac (Timothée Chalamet) are living in a very secluded location far away from any form of civilisation because their father Daniel (Grant Bowler) has decided that they will live their life that way. Naturally the siblings resent this way of life and tension grows within the family as the film progresses.
This film explores the concept of how outcasts from society might be perceived. In this case their ability is what makes them outcasts but if it had been replaced by anything else then the film would have been pretty much the same. Their ability to teleport is used so sparingly that it comes across as being really redundant by the end.
I found myself reminded of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village with characters isolated from society while having no real context of what society is actually like. This film offers hints with modern enough technology being used around the house and a scene where a plane is seen overhead but on the whole it exists in a world of its own where the confines of the secluded area makes up the entirety of the world for all intents and purposes.
It seems that the reason for living this way is fear more than anything else. Fear is a theme that is brought up throughout the film as it’s something that all of the characters feel. Daniel is afraid of what would happen if people find out what his kids can do but he also seems to be afraid of them for reasons that are never explained. Their mother Elizabeth (Elizabeth Reaser) is afraid of what will happen to her children when she dies but she also seems to be afraid of death since it is always imminent for her. The siblings are afraid of their father but also have a fear of the outside world that comes from not being exposed to it.
The theme isn’t so much explored as it is constantly brought up without any resolution to it. One of the biggest problems is that the screenplay leaves far too many gaps for the reader to fill in by themselves which makes the overall experience of watching the film feel like a very confusing one. Character motivations seem to change from one minute to the next and so much goes unsaid that everything feels really clumsy by the end.
It’s a shame that things fall apart as the premise had a lot of potential and there were some strong scenes early on. I really liked the characters of Eva and Zac initially and the scenes of them teleporting to sneak out of the house in the dead of night so that they could have fun worked really well. It creates a nice contrast between the normality of growing up and the supernatural nature of their ability.
It’s definitely a slow burn this one and any concept of solid pacing is quickly abandoned leaving something that becomes an unfocused mess that is very difficult to sit through. I wouldn’t recommend this one personally.
Some strong early scenes and a well developed theme of fear and isolation aren’t enough to salvage this into something watchable.
This film abandons any concept of pacing very early on which makes it something of a chore to sit through for the most part. Scenes where the siblings use their ability to sneak out of the house to enjoy themselves and some of the general family interactions are nicely done but the abiding memory is of the underdeveloped plot points that come out of nowhere and go nowhere.
The actors all do a good job but they have very little to work with that everything feels so clumsily put together. I’d suggest giving this one a miss.