SXSW Film Review – One & Two
One & Two
I stumbled onto One & Two in SXSW Film experience. I went into the film not knowing more than a short synopsis and the actors involved. It turned out to be revelatory experience, one that changed my mind about all those high-budget comic book films that people get themselves so worked up about. It is a film that can be likened to the old adage, “Less is more.”
One & Two centers on a young brother and sister, Zac (Timothée Chalamet) and Eva (Kiernan Shipka). They live with their parents, Elizabeth (Elizabeth Reaser) and Daniel (Grant Bowler), on a farm in a rural part of the country. With no friends around, Zac and Eva entertain themselves and sneak out at night to go and swim in the pond or run around in the woods. Their father hates when they lie and sneak out. He does not like that special part of them, the part he chooses to shield from the rest of the world. Zac and Eva are not ordinary teens; they have a supernatural ability, one that allows them to escape the confines of their home more easily. Complicating the situation at home, Elizabeth is sick with seizures, but is always in her children’s corner, as a loving mother should be. Things become much worse and violent after an event that turns Zac and Eva’s world upside down.
One & Two is Andrew Droz Palermo’s first dramatic feature after cutting his teeth as a director of photography and directing the documentary, Rich Hill. He also co-wrote the screenplay with Neima Shahdadi. After watching it, some people might think that part of the story is heavily influenced by a certain film, The Village. I can tell you that it was not. Palermo had not even seen the film when he made it, and he is not a fan of M. Night Shyamalan’s film. It may also remind you of certain comic book films, but that is not a coincidence.
The film appears to be naturally lit for the most-part, owing to the family living without electricity. Candles and lanterns are used as well as moonlight for night scenes. That and the family’s clothes and living situation make you question what time period it is set in. The music also is subdued, except for the crescendo use of M83 at the conclusion. This all keeps the focus on the four characters and Zac and Eva’s supernatural abilities.
The four actors chosen for the roles are completely perfect. Both Kiernan Shipka and Timothée Chalamet play well against each other. You can tell the bond of brother and sister is there, as well as Chalamet playing the protective older brother. Elizabeth Reaser plays a loving, forgiving mother and wife and gives her whole body over to the role, as she has clearly able to imitate a seizure in painful detail. Grant Bowler plays an overly protective father who loves his wife deeply. His world falls apart and he descends into madness and Bowler is able to do this on an almost scary level.
My love for One & Two came at the end, realizing what a fresh perspective on supernatural ability films it is. With the film direction, the way it was shot, and the acting, it makes you re-evaluate all the high-budget comic book films. This could be an origin story for a couple of, for the lack of a better term, X-Men mutants. Palermo would like to do a sequel or a prequel. I sincerely hope that One & Two will play for a larger audience and make the money necessary for the story to progress. This is not a film that tells a story the way you would expect and that is the best part.
Also, be sure to check out our interview with director Andrew Droz Palermo and actress Elizabeth Reaser from SXSW 2015.