Mini Review: Two of Us

Year: 2019
Runtime: 95 Minutes

Director: Filippo Meneghetti

Writers: Malysone Bovorasmy, Filippo Meneghetti

Stars: Barbara Sukowa, Martine Chevallier, Léa Drucker

By Caelyn O’Reilly

The person introducing “Two of Us” (aka “Deux”) to audiences at the Glasgow Film Festival made sure to note the film’s confident filmmaking from feature debut writer/director Filippo Meneghetti. This was an incredibly accurate assessment. The film’s extensive use of Spielbergian oners and dramatic push-ins is emblematic of a creator with full control of their toolbox of cinematic tricks without feeling the need to over-indulge or show-off.

Meneghetti deftly uses restraint to create intrigue and suspense in this small, personal story. But key to making this film as engaging as it is are the lead performances of Barbara Sukowa and Martine Chevallier who perfectly play their roles as an elderly queer couple kept apart by tragic circumstance and the bigotry of those around them. The nature of their secretive characters means that their subtle, precise expressions and non-verbal communication really do speak louder than words.

“Ultimately, “Two of Us” is an expertly crafted and touching story that holds the audience in its grip from beginning to end. What’s especially compelling is the nature of this film being a directorial debut for Meneghetti.”

deux 1
Martine Chevallier and Barbara Sukowa in Deux (2019) © Courtesy of TIFF

The film makes efficient use of its largely confined setting between the women’s two apartments, separated by a small hallway. The intimate locations and stakes are wrung for every ounce of tension and intrigue they’re worth as the situation builds. This is one of those movies where the filmmaking choices are so natural and perfect, they rarely feel like human decisions. Though one clear decision was the use of doors and other barriers as a motif throughout, emphasising the ways in which the characters are being divided.

It’s a wonderful little film. Though one issue I do have with it is the ending. The film bases all of its tension around the question of whether the couple, Nina and Madeleine, will manage to get back together. The tension is raised to a point where anything other than a defiant, riding-off-into-the-sunset ending would feel anti-climactic. While I don’t want to spoil the film, it doesn’t quite go to that length and it does leave the finale a touch underwhelming, if not any less poignant.

Ultimately, “Two of Us” is an expertly crafted and touching story that holds the audience in its grip from beginning to end. What’s especially compelling is the nature of this film being a directorial debut for Meneghetti. To me, this reads as a potential beginning to an illustrious filmography that could place this director firmly in ‘auteur’ status. Normally, these types of films are looked upon after the fact, once the director has become more established, so it is fascinating to see this film in the moment, to see this debut in action.

4 stars

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