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‘One & Two’: Film Review

‘One & Two’: Film Review

By: William Alexander

Written and directed by Andrew Droz Palermo, One And Two is a moving fantasy thriller that sees a strained family of four living in idyllic isolation out of reach from modern society. A beautiful connection is unearthed between the two siblings Eva (Kiernan Shipka) and Zac (Timothee Chalamet) who share unique supernatural qualities that are unveiled as the narrative unravels – and when it does it’s wondrous. The siblings teleport themselves from one to place to the other, zapping in and out of real-time, and the first time that it happens you find yourself taken aback with surprise.

Written and directed by Andrew Droz Palermo, One And Two is a moving fantasy thriller that sees a strained family of four living in idyllic isolation out of reach from modern society. A beautiful connection is unearthed between the two siblings Eva (Kiernan Shipka) and Zac (Timothee Chalamet) who share unique supernatural qualities that are unveiled as the narrative unravels – and when it does it’s wondrous. The siblings teleport themselves from one to place to the other, zapping in and out of real-time, and the first time that it happens you find yourself taken aback with surprise. Things slowly take a dramatic, roundabout turn for the worse as Eva and Zac’s mother falls seriously ill and their father acts recklessly on impulse. Relationships seem to strengthen, shatter, rebuild and then break again but through it all love remains a transparent trait in One And Two; it joins the family together in a way that’s crippling, twisted and deeply unsettling.

The opening montage is truly stunning and it tickles all of the five senses, making one wish that they were also there with Eva and Zac plunging into the lake and taking long strolls across acres of countryside. Autumn Durald’s cinematography is twinned with a fantastic sound design that allows one to feel underwater vibrations and rumbles as Eva and Zac’s bodies pierce the water’s surface, swimming elegantly out of frame. Here the theme of isolation, and emancipation, is set up wonderfully well, noticeably in the extreme long shot of Eva and Zac wandering through the hills where the woodlands mark the fringes of the unsheltered, green open space. This moment in particular is emblematic of something much darker and chilling when we soon discover the siblings’ reality: The family are bound to a confined, hidden space of land where their farmhouse sits and a towering, wooden wall surrounds it. Weirdly, at first glance, it’s as if they are prisoners out of their own choice. This, however, is not entirely true. There is an alliance between Eva and Zac that glimmers in front of your eyes and warms your heart when it’s just the two of them embracing their natural surroundings, longing for an adventure outside of the wall.  

When we see the family seated together at the dinner table there is a cold temperature between the four characters, or more so a lack of intimacy that makes you, as the viewer, slightly uncomfortable. The clever cinematography and framing helps to achieve a perturbed and dismal feeling that only really seeps through when the four are unified, or appear so, merely because they are facing one another at the table and joining hands to say grace. Eva and Zac make up one pair and their parents, Elizabeth and Daniel, make up the other but when you do simple mathematics, and add two and two together, you’re left with just four individuals. There is no whole, nor is there a real sense of unity, partly due to Daniel’s overbearing control over the family, which is disturbing and gut-wrenching to say the least. Once you remove one from that equation you’re left with three and this is when things suddenly turn very ugly indeed in One And Two. There’s a key moment in the beginning of the film that serves as a symbol of things to come when Eva and Elizabeth spot a chicken running away from the henhouse and comment with “look who got out”. It’s a delightful mother and daughter moment that can be easily overlooked if you’re not observant enough or taking note of what that fleeing chicken actually represents. That’s all we’ll say on that, for now.

One And Two sets everything up very well within the first thirty minutes; however, you do notice a drop in momentum, notably in the last quarter, but it works in the sense that we’re given breathing space when we’re away from the madness in the farmhouse and we’re following Eva. Joshua James Johnson, the visual effects supervisor, deserves considerable praise for his work on this film and I’m still unable to shake the images of the siblings zapping, popping and shifting in and out of our focus, not to forget the array of sounds that accompany them too. It’s pretty special. Metrodome have announced One And Two’s theatrical release date on 29th January and 8th February for home entertainment.