SXSW Film review: ‘One & Two’ a bizarre fairy tale

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Kiernan Shipka in "One & Two."
Kiernan Shipka in "One & Two."

Kiernan Shipka in “One & Two.”

Screening in the “Visions” category this year, “One & Two” is the narrative debut film from Andrew Droz Palermo, who previously won a jury prize at Sundance for his documentary “Rich Hill.”


This visually stunning movie plays out like a bizarre fairy tale that is part “Dogtooth” and part “A Secret Garden.” It focuses on a family with two teenage children who are living in a very rural area, keeping to themselves while tending to a farm. It’s difficult to know what time period we’re supposed to be in as there’s no electricity in the home and they lead a very simple life, but occasionally airplanes fly overhead. This is one of the many signs that something isn’t quite what it seems.


Kiernan Shipka (“Mad Men”) and Timothee Chalamet (“Interstellar”) play a brother and sister who are exceptionally close. While they tend to clash with their gruff father (Grant Bowler), their mother (Elizabeth Reaser) is kind and gentle and seems to balance out their tense family dynamic. After their mom begins to exhibit signs of a serious illness, their isolated nature contributes to life as they’ve known it falling apart.


Unrelated (at least I think), both teenagers have an unexplained power that admittedly looks amazing on screen, but is so oddly limited that it just feels underdeveloped. To go much further into the story would venture too heavily into spoiler territory, but I do think that both of the young leads give great performances, and the cinematography is frequently breathtaking. There are some really interesting elements here, but they don’t add up to the sum of the film’s admittedly intriguing parts.


“One & Two” screens again on Wednesday at 7:45 p.m. at the Marchesa.


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