Two Movie Review: Decent acting in a poorly written and conceived film
If more attention was paid to the writing, Two would have made an impression as the acting isn’t half-bad
Mar Targarona’s Spanish Netflix original is one underwhelming and frankly boring attempt. Its premise borrows heavily from such titles as The Human Centipede and other mainstays in the body horror genre. What sets a film (despite the exploration of a known subject) apart is its story and characters. Get those two aspects right, and no matter how unoriginal the basis, you have yourself a worthy feature. But Two falls short on both counts. It isn’t terrible by any stretch, just too ordinary and cliché to invest time and energy in, that’s all. Pablo Derqui and Marina Gatell play David and Sara, respectively – strangers who awake naked next to one another in a hotel room only to realise they have been surgically attached at the abdomen. They have no recollection of the preceding hours, either. Initial suspicion (mostly on the part of Sara) gives way to the formulation of an escape strategy. As they navigate their painful predicament (any movement must be precise or else there is agony to pay), the duo must deal with clues and connections that bind them together. They cannot be more different, though. Sara is privileged, having married into fame and wealth. David, on the other hand, hails from a working-class background. The latter is revealed to be a male escort with a dubious record of blackmailing his clients. Loneliness is perhaps the only common link between the two. At different junctures, the faceless person behind this sick game leaves obscure pieces of the puzzle for them to make sense of. A set of someone else’s earrings (found on Sara), a photograph of a woman named Rita, David’s and Sara’s favourite foods, and so on. Lights going out periodically, a landline phone ringing between intervals, twin paintings adorning the wall and cameras watching their every move – David and Sara must attempt to comprehend the inexplicable to get out alive.
Director – Mar Targarona
Cast – Pablo Derqui, Marina Gatell
Streaming On – Netflix
The film revolves around conversation and ideation between the leads. And this is where the writing throws in the towel. Lengthy exchanges ensue about the possibility of Sara’s possessive older husband being behind all of this; he has suspected her fidelity for a while, apparently. This bit, though plausible, is just too predictable to work effectively. The jealous hubby trope is as old as time, and the writers should have done better, to be honest. Since her husband is the closest to a prime suspect, he gets talked of a lot – how rich he is, how cultured he is, how much older he is, and so forth. So, where does David fit in here? He has no conceivable connection to either Sara or her better half. And yet, he was paid a handsome sum of money by an older gentleman with a beard (fitting Sara’s husband’s description) to seduce a woman.
Pablo Derqui and Marina Gatell act rather believably in the film, but it is the poor dialogue and subpar narrative conception that overshadow an otherwise decent performance. Though their acting is good, the leads aren’t sketched well enough for it to be an engaging character-driven story. The big reveal with its complicated/clunky presentation ends up sinking Two’s chances. It comes off as ridiculous and borderline laughable, as opposed to sinister (what the makers were, no doubt, going for). You feel for Derqui and Gatell, you really do, as it is a bad script that lets them down, not the other way around. Despite the duo being trapped in a relatively small space for an extended period of time, the film is unable to capture the necessary claustrophobia required for a body horror story to work. As a viewer, you barely register that feeling, and that’s a problem.
The lonely existence of the leads (Sara’s loveless marriage and David relying on his beloved dog for companionship) is a part that works in the favour of Two. Mar Targarona and the film’s set of writers ought to have cashed in on this aspect (one that succeeded in strengthening the characters’ emotional bond), but alas, not enough attention is paid to it. Right from its opening scene to its incredulous closing shot, it is an underwhelming effort, refusing to be a thinking story. You could have forgiven some of its pitfalls had it been more atmospheric. One is left with two leads acting well in a film with poor writing and conception. Say the characters were sketched just that bit better, Two may well have made the average cut.