‘The Killing of Two Lovers’ Director Robert Machoian on Making One of the Year’s Most Intense Movies [Interview]
Posted on Wednesday, May 19th, 2021 by Steven Prokopy
After years of making features (God Bless the Child, When She Runs) with his directing partner Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck, Robert Machoian finally decided the time had come to branch out on his own as a writer/director with his debut solo feature The Killing of Two Lovers. The film stars Clayne Crawford as David, a man living in small-town Utah, trying desperately to keep his large family (one teenage girl played by Avery Pizzuto, and three younger boys portrayed by Machoian’s three real-life sons) together during what is meant to be a temporary separation from wife Nikki (Sepideh Moafi). While they have agreed its okay to see other people during this difficult time, David is shocked when Nikki begins a relationship with Derek (Chris Coy), to the point where the film opens with the startling, silent image of David standing over the sleeping couple in bed with a gun in his hand.
A much talked about Sundance 2020 premiere, The Killing of Two Lovers does the seemingly impossible by making us empathize with David’s struggle, despite that startling introduction. By all other signs, he’s a good husband and father, as well as being a reasonable person when it comes to conflict, even when he’s forced to confront Derek face-to-face late in the film, leading to an extraordinary, single-take sequence that takes us through David’s final breaking point. Much of the film is done in longer, unbroken shots and features a jarring soundscape, made up largely of slamming car doors and other crunching metallic noises that form a rhythmic, almost musical backdrop —t he film has no actual score — for David’s actions. It gives us some insight into the torment inside his head.