Advanced screening courtesy of Verve Pictures and Eclipse Pictures.
A couple meet in a Liverpudlian nightclub and embark on a dark and sexually charged relationship.
I left this film in a similar mood to leaving “Betty Blue”, “The Cement Garden” or “Requiem For A Dream” but not quite as, for the want of a better word, satisfied.
As a character driven film director Kieran Evans created a claustrophobic atmosphere that suits the story with chokingly close interior shots (even the few exterior shots are close ups and almost feel like interiors themselves). When he does go outside with Cinematographer Piers McGrail they make shots of the untidy side Liverpool look like works of art.
While Antonia Campbell-Hughes plays the outwardly shy and inwardly dark Kelly very well but if there is one element missing from her performance it is the magnetic quality she is meant to possess. Victor, played by Julian Morris, is very believable a naive idealist who falls under the spell of this shy sex-nymph.
Campbell-Hughes’ fault may lie more with the filmmakers who insist on driving home the idea that she was bewitching by putting the line ‘I do anything for you’ into two of the male character’s dialogue. If they had left them out the relationship may have come across more naturally. But they also gloss over their bonding with a few too many scenes without dialogue of the two protagonists laughing and cuddling up overlaid with the score. We are told that these two are in love and not really shown it.
There are three sub plots, all with potential, including an amusing and almost too short drug-induced outdoor forest romp but none of them are developed or really entwined with the main love affair.
If you can overlook all these elements it is close to being a satisfying dark, sexually charged, violent, and partially drug-fueled ‘romance’.
Kelly + Victor opens in Ireland on 20th September