Kiernan Shipka stars as Eva in One & Two. (IFC Midnight)
Movies about people with supernatural powers that dominate multiplexes during the summer are generally overblown affairs that endow their protagonists with amazing abilities, but One & Two offers two children whose abilities don’t give them much power at all. Anyone looking for easy answers or explanations will find none for the teenage siblings of Andrew Droz Palermo’s film, but like most stories of humans with supernatural abilities, Palermo uses these as a metaphor for actual human experiences. The tens of millions of dollars spent on special effects on the many Marvel films released each summer may not be there, but the same messages remain present.
One & Two stars Kiernan Shipka and Timothée Chalamet as teenage siblings who are trapped in their family home with their domineering father (Grant Bowler of “Defiance: The Lost Ones” and “True Blood”) and sickly mother (Elisabeth Reaser of Young Adult and Twilight). The two siblings can turn only to each other for support as they practice the supernatural abilities like teleportation that their father has forbidden. There is a disturbing undercurrent of co-dependence between the two siblings that recalls Flowers in the Attic, and the fact that Shipka starred in the recent television adaptation makes the connection even more pronounced.
Shipka is best known for “Mad Men,” thus making her perfect for yet another role as a bright, inquisitive teenager who must deal with parents who are abusive and ineffectual. As in “Mad Men,” Shipka remains a standout. For all of the plaudits offered to the adults in the “Mad Men” case, Shipka was able to take what could have been an inessential role and make it significant; more than one critic noted that the real story behind the tale of Don Draper was how Sally Draper came to spend her adult life in therapy, and Shipka’s performance was critical to that. Ninety minutes of One & Two may not offer Shipka the same opportunities that nearly 10 years on one of the most critically-acclaimed shows on television did, but the film is a reminder of her talent.
One & Two is a quiet, spare film that offers few explanations behind its characters’ plight, and an honest conversation between any two characters could cut it down to a 15-minute short. The film is nonetheless an effective parable about growing up, bolstered by its lead performance.
One & Two
Now in select theaters and On-Demand
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