LFF 2018 Twin Flower Review
Twin Flower (2018) Film Review from the 62nd Annual London Film Festival, a movie directed by Laura Luchetti, starring Anastasyia Bogach, Kalill Kone and Aniello Arena.
Twin Flower’s simplicity is a double-edged sword. It’s a respectfully moving depiction of the harsh lives of two youngsters from Sardinia. Writer-director Laura Luchetti wants to enlighten viewers about these discarded from society individuals. What she focuses on is the duo’s internal turmoil. In the process, very little information is provided regarding how and why their lives are so difficult. That would’ve come in handy in deed. There is a lot of suffering depicted in the 96 minutes of the film and very few reasons.
A Dark Tale Illuminated by Love
The story’s approach, however, succeeds in an entirely different way. Alone, damaged and lost, the protagonists’ only hope is each other. Their relationship is built up in an enticing, skillful fashion. The tension is kept throughout the entire film. It keeps rising in the most low-key and effective manner imaginable all the way to its magical climax.
The plot is simple and painful. Her name is Anne and a terrible tragedy has befallen her family. She is chased and is in hiding. His name is Basim, he is a refugee and he is on the run too, bullied and hated. And that’s not the end of it. The two go from one dirty place to another without barely saying a word to each other. That makes it all the more adorable. The performances of the first-time actors are impressive. Kallil Kone is in possession of undeniable charisma and Anastasyia Bogach is heartwarming and heart wrenching in equal measure.
The Silent Magic of the Lovers
The subtlety, with which the film-maker handles the emotional journey of the protagonists’ love reminds of classic titles like In the Mood for Love. Hopefully, this doesn’t sound as an exaggeration. The character of Anne doesn’t say a single word, while she is with Basin, which makes it all the more powerful. Throughout the movie, their growing feelings are barely hinted at. The characters’ journey takes them from one depressing landscape to another. They are sleeping in abandoned buildings, on the floor, cut off from the community. Their lonely venture is so dispiriting that the viewers naturally and inevitably hope that the two will get romantically involved.
And the film-maker is fully aware of that. He lets the audience do the work for him and wisely so. As their feelings for each other grow, we see the characters slowly diminish the space between them. Two simple shots of them looking at the other initiate the culminating sequence. It concludes with a breath-taking, intimate scene that involves a rusty, old, bathtub. The moment stands out with its intoxicating sensuality and everything else in the film brutally pales in comparison. Filth, hate, physical wounds, loneliness, despair – they are nothing compared to the sight of two wounded individuals embracing each other.
The Gloom Smothers the Story
What doesn’t work in Twin Flower is the excessive amount of tragedy. At some point in the third act, after the couple reveals all to each other, a line is crossed. These two extremely likable characters accomplish an inspired, hard-earned victory over the merciless hand that life has dealt them. The way the story continues takes that away from us, twisting the knife further.
A considerable portion of the script reveals through flashbacks the harrowing events in the characters’ past. The film’s one-dimensional villain is a simple-minded monster and his acts seem excessive. It doesn’t feel like he realistically depicts the society’s negligence towards foreign immigrants and refugees. He is a rapist, a killer and a pedophile – it’s just too much. The film doesn’t need that to make its point. A couple of more popular contemporary themes that needlessly add to the hardships of the duo are also present. The two main characters come across more than enough pain and trouble in their backstory alone. The fact that the side-plot with the bad guy results in a predictable and anti-climactic action scene is all the more disappointing.
Love Versus Tragedy
The film does make a point – love the person you are not familiar with; treat him with respect. The traumatic events in its short runtime extend well beyond that message. It does feel like the film-makers are trying too hard to evoke an emotional response by pouring salt over the wounds of the characters and the audience. It is a decent trade though. Watching the romance of two lonely and devastated souls grow from nothing to something real and powerful is definitely worth it.
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