One and Two
Kiernan Shipka shines in the first narrative feature from Andrew Droz Palermo
The startlingly beautiful debut solo feature from Andrew Droz Palermo (who co-directed the award-winning documentary Rich Hill) exists in the same magical realist realm as Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild, while its superpower imagery bears comparison to Josh Trank’s Chronicle and its darker moments recall Chad Crawford Kinkle’s excellent Jug Face. This coming-of-ager is concerned with family, abuse, poverty and homelessness and, though it sadly loses its way in the latter half, it does mark out a bright new talent.
Tranquil images of an isolated farmhouse where a family appear to be harmoniously living off the land are suddenly shattered when it is revealed they inhabit a strange hinterland fenced off from the rest of society. This revelation is soon followed by siblings Eva (Kiernan Shipka – aka Mad Men’s Sally Draper) and Zac (Timothée Chalamet) testing out newfound powers of teleportation, which induce severe attacks in their mother Elizabeth (Elizabeth Reaser – turning in an affecting performance). When their father Daniel (Grant Bowler) realises he lashes out and forbids them to do it again. But the temptation is too great for Eva who, in an act of defiance, after an upsetting encounter with her father, pushes her powers to the limit in order to leave the family farm.
Droz Palermo (who’s best known as the cinematographer who shot You’re Next) doesn’t waste time explaining the weird reality he has created, where a family pray to an unknown deity and speak of mysterious prophecies. And though ambiguity is part of its charm, One and Two does leave you questioning why the teens don’t use their powers to protect themselves from harm. Shipka – who has the most to do – is particularly captivating, but strong performances across the board render this a frequently involving and moving experience, with the endearing chemistry between the screen siblings making their bond wholly believable.
Limited release from Fri 29 Jan.