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The celebrated commercials director Juan Cabral makes his feature debut with this distinctive and defiantly uncommercial drama – which could not be further from the mainstream if you doubled the running time and dubbed the whole thing in Finnish. It’s a beautifully composed, enigmatic movie with a high-concept plot about two men on either side of the planet who are mysteriously connected by midlife despair and existential emptiness.
Cabral has no fear of resisting dramatic scenarios, leisurely toggling between the two men’s parallel lives; as one wakes up the other drifts off to sleep. In Vancouver, Boyd Holbrook plays Kaden, a professional ski jumper who at 35 refuses to face up to the cold reality that he has reached pensionable age on the slopes. When he meets an ex-girlfriend for coffee, he is stung by regret at the life he did not choose – she’s now married with kids; he’s single. Meanwhile in Shanghai, Khai (Yang Song) is a top advertising executive who jerks off to photographs of the same woman every night on a revenge-porn website. When by extraordinary coincidence she gets a job at his company, they start dating. But Khai, with zero self-insight, secretly blames her for the photos, which she has no idea have been posted online by an ex.
There’s much emotional insight in these scenes and Cabral suggests that both men’s failure at relationships stems from their fathers, without ever getting too heavy-handed. Beau Bridges does a nice job as Kaden’s dad, a shaggy bearded likeble old dude with a selfish streak.
Towards the end, Kaden and Khai’s paths cross – and here the movie’s purpose melts away. Actually coming together face to face has freaky consequences and the dippy mystical message about interconnectedness is irritating and exasperating in the final minutes.
• Two/One is released on 10 October on Mubi.
Source: The Guardian
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