thu 11/08/2022

Kelly + Victor | reviews, news & interviews

Kelly + Victor

Kelly + Victor

Liverpool lovers doomed by the strength of their passion

Doomed passion: the strength of Kelly and Victor's bond will tear them apart

Kieran Evans’s debut feature, adapted from the novel by Niall Griffiths, achieves a rare and accomplished sense of place in its depiction of Liverpool. It’s a place of chilly but not actually threatening cityscapes, with an air of space and windy sunshine, from which the film’s eponymous protagonists retreat into a private bedroom world.

Kelly (Antonia Campbell-Hughes) and Victor (Julian Morris) catch each other’s eye across the dance floor, and they’re soon spiralling into a relationship. It's gradually revealed that she’s been hurt in the past, and has ended up with a very particular way of expressing her sexual nature: the ecstasy in their coupling soon becomes inseparable from pain. First Victor is caught up, then shocked enough to move away, until a chance reunion precipitates the film’s final disorienting act, though rapid intercuts back to their love-making mean that that primal scene never really goes away.

It begins happily: these two are young lovers, Kelly in particular almost impish in her vulnerability. They enjoy a coasting, carefree lifestyle, though Victor’s world is very nicely grounded through his contact with his sister, who’s married with a young family. It’s a stabilising background that Kelly lacks.

Both have jobs, of sorts – he does something in what’s left of the city’s docks – with sidelines that are taking them towards the edge of the law. Victor is driver for a couple of friends who are starting up dealing drugs, though they couldn’t be more amateur at it if they tried, taking them out into the countryside to collect a new consignment. Kelly gets roped in to help a friend who’s a dominatrix, leading to a funny but edgy scene involving punishments inflicted on a banker, which leaves Kelly feeling uneasy and out of her element.

Her problem is that she doesn’t have a centre to her life, while he isn’t strong enough to lead her towards one. If there’s a place they could be happy, director Evans hints that it’s somewhere out there in an abstracted nature, a place we visit in a trance-like opening scene of trees and dappled sunlight, with a repeated ethereal whispering, “Let’s start again”. They wander Liverpool’s parks and streets, and end up in the city’s Walker Art Gallery (pictured above right), wondering at the Victorian images of lovers on its walls: one sculpture, “Death, the Door to Life”, telling of a love that triumphed over mortality, particularly attracts their attention, its title proving ominously prophetic.

The sense of melancholy is well caught in Kelly + Victor, captured in a soundtrack that mixes acoustic artists like King Creosote & Jon Hopkins with solo instrumentals, most powerfully the cello. It’s tender, too, this story of passion between two characters who are almost too innocent for this world, whose love, obsessively close, will tear them apart. Evans is a director to watch.

Overleaf: watch the trailer for Kelly + Victor

It’s tender, too, this story of passion between two characters who are almost too innocent for this world


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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