One&Two (2015)

January 21st, 2016
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Andrew Droz Palermo;

Cast: Kiernan Shipka, Timothee Chalamet, Elizabeth Reaser, Grant Bouter

USA 2015, 90 min.

Director/writer Andrew Droz Palermo’s debut is yet another rural mystery; strong on atmosphere but weak on a narrative that lacks any explanation for the supernatural goings on.

Set in the countryside of North Carolina, One&Two tells the story of a dysfunctional family who living behind a big wooden wall, keep the outside world away. The mother, Elizabeth  (Reaser) suffers from frequent unexplained ‘petit mal’ attacks whilst her husband Daniel (Bouter), tries to keep their teenage offspring Eva (Shipka) and Zac (Chalamet) from activating their ‘supernatural’ powers at night. Amongst other gifts they are able to de-materialise and go through glass windows and walls and jump in and out of the water like dolphins in the nearby lake. Daniel literally nails his unruly children to the wall, hammering in long nails through the fabric of their clothes, so that they can’t move. All is in vain; the siblings go on frolicking at night, and when Elizabeth dies, Daniel puts Eva into a boat with a sack round her neck and lets her drift with the currents. Eva wakes up in a hospital in a small town, after having been found by passers by on the shore of another lake. At home, Daniel confronts his father for the first time with his super natural powers, whilst Eva is scheming for a return.

DOP Autumn Durald (Palo Alto) creates a  mysterious atmosphere at the farm for the first twenty minutes or so, keeping things tense, taught and interesting. But when no explanation is given for the siblings’ supernatural powers, this lack of narrative weighs the film down: is the big great wooden wall near the farm supposed to keep the children in, or some ancient evil out? It all remains a mystery. Eva’s exploits in the town are a complete departure from the previous and final scenes and feel like a ploy to extend the running time to 90 minutes rather than a cogent part of the story. Performances are mixed; Shipka’s enigmatic gazing is particularly annoying. In the end, the many shortcomings of Palermo’s debut feature far outweigh the cinematographic achievements of Durald and sap the entertainment value. AS


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