Cinematic Releases: Two Times You (2018) - Reviewed

The second feature of Mexican writer-director Salomon Askenazi, Two Times You, a labyrinthine nonlinear existential psychodrama of sorts, is another one of those films which feels right at home with such strange bedfellows as David Lynch, Nicolas Winding Refn and Quentin Tarantino.  While easy to draw comparisons to those three filmmakers when assessing this Spanish language thriller, one hardly cares while watching that Two Times You proudly wears recognizable influences upon its sleeves. 

Surreal, dreamy and often deliberately incoherent, this recently acquired import, like David Robert Mitchell’s own Under the Silver Lake will either entrance viewers with its beguiling mysteries or annoy with impenetrability.  Whatever the case, the first thing you’ll want to do when it’s over is seek out and purchase the soundtrack album which would make the likes of Johnny Jewel or Cliff Martinez blush.

Opening on two cousins, Daniela (Melissa Barrera) and Tania (Anahi Davila), double-dating with their husbands at a social event involving plenty of booze, the relatives hatch an idea to swap wedding rings before going home with each other’s respective husbands.  When a drunken drag race home goes awry, leaving one of the swapped couples dead, the film takes on an increasingly jagged rhythm between past, present, premonitory fears of the future before gradually building towards an existential anomaly which leaves the audience with more homework in their laps than they prepared for.  Not content to confront the mysteries of displaced couples falling in and out of love, Two Times You also serves up what-if scenarios throughout until neither we nor the characters are sure what plane of reality we are on anymore.

Either the work of a brilliant auteur or a student filmmaker eager to impress his contemporaries, whatever you make of Two Times You won’t take away from the technical quality of the filmmaking, the strength of the performances or the original score’s ability to lull you into a trance.  Much like Combat Shock, one of the leading actors Daniel Adissi contributed original tracks to the film which will immediately remind viewers and listeners of Kavinsky’s Nightcall opening Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, replete with aerial helicopter shots of nighttime cityscapes.  Whether the film succeeds artistically or not, the soundtrack to this thing soars and will likely get more attention than the film itself. 

While not a masterpiece and debatable whether or not it emerges as a successful narrative, Two Times You is truly an interesting exercise in nouvelle vague inspired nonlinear filmmaking.  Reportedly this film went through an extensive editing period with nearly twenty different cuts of the film before settling on the one released in theaters, and though the finished product is bound to leave more viewers scratching their heads than making sense of it, what’s here will find a way to worm it’s way into your psyche.  I may not have liked the picture all that much, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since first seeing it.

--Andrew Kotwicki