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  Two/One Eyes Wide Shut
Year: 2019
Director: Juan Cabral
Stars: Boyd Holbrook, Song Yang, Zhu Zhu, Dominique McElligott, Beau Bridges, Hrothgar Mathews, Raymond Ma, Gabriel Tsai, Marilyn Norry, Princeton Lim, Anna Van Hooft, Brian Calvert, Jane McGregor, Mischa Karwat, Ashley Ross, Dale Hunter
Genre: Drama, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Khai (Song Yang) is a marketing executive in Shanghai who is regarded as one of the up and coming talents in his field; he lives in a swanky apartment, sees his father regularly, and seems to have all mod cons in his life, but one thing he does not have is romance. His sex life is reduced to masturbating to photographs of women on a revenge porn website, and he feels as if he needs someone real to be with, which is why he is intrigued by Jia (Zhu Zhu), a new face in the office he recognises from the site. Meanwhile, on almost literally the other side of the world, champion ski jumper Kaden (Boyd Holbrook) wakes up when Khai goes to sleep; he us suffering women problems too, having given up the opposite sex in favour of his career...

Writer and director Juan Cabral made his name in advertising, winning many an award for such campaigns as the nonsensical gorilla/chocolate one, which illustrated his knack for conjuring up memorable imagery. However, that talent somewhat deserted him on his debut movie, where the point was not to lodge a product in the mind of the viewer, but a far out concept, this time where one person can be asleep when their counterpart is awake on the opposite end of the globe, strangely linked but never explained, and completely unaware of each other. It's an idea he could have pulled off in a two-minute commercial when there was one big problem with it that anyone watching could have highlighted, because the ads were intended to be memories.

But for a narrative movie, there was an issue with the logic that might have made a dinky fairy tale, but not a pretentious art flick, for you kept wondering, wait, does this mean each man is asleep for twelve hours a day? How do they carry on any kind of job if that is the case? Especially when ski jumpers have to be superfit so can't spend half the day in bed. And besides, wouldn't their doctors be extremely concerned for their health if they not only slumbered that long, but as we see, kept dropping off at points during daylight so their opposite number could go to the toilet in the middle of the night? If they were in their eighties, and slipping under regularly, you could just about forgive this, but Kaden and Khai were supposed to be in their mid-thirties and it was simply too much of a sticking point to get along with for any great length of time.

Besides that, for a film with such a muted, would-be classy tone, packing the action, such as it was, with shots of the leads falling asleep was a sure way of making the audience think, ooh, I could do with forty winks myself, and tempt them into dozing, not the desired effect you would imagine. Setting all that aside with a lot of effort, the plots were of two men reaching an early midlife crisis after Kaden doesn't believe he has paid enough attention to his emotional side and now faces an empty existence when his skiing career soon will dry up, while Khai has a real bad attitude with women exhibited when he starts dating the revenge porn victim and aggressively blames her for her own humiliation (she also has one foot, for reasons unexplained). Really Two/One was what happened when an adman whiz is given carte blanche to prove themselves profound in a feature film and proves nothing except they know how to use a camera for glossy pictures. One wonders if he swears in pitches like Khai to make himself sound cooler. Music by Nicolas Barry and Tomas Jacobi.

[Click here to watch on MUBI.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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