Sally Draper leaps to the big screen in this slight, sumptuous drama about teleporting teens.
Imagine if Terrence Malick made an X-Men movie on a shoestring budget and you’ll have a decent enough sense of what director Andrew Droz Palermo has accomplished with One and Two, a contemplative supernatural drama that explores the usual blushes of teenage rebellion in a most unusual way.
Draped against the bucolic idyll of middle-American farm country, where the magic hour seems to last for most of the evening, the film introduces us to pubescent siblings Eva (Kiernan Shipka) and Zac (Timothée Chalamet), who tend to the family's chickens and wear potato-sack clothing like any normal 19th-century youths. But the plane they spy flying far overhead suggests that they may not be in the 19th century, and the envy with which they watch the aircraft move through the sky suggests that they’ve never been allowed to venture beyond the massive wall that rings their land like a stiff collar. We’re never told who built the barrier—all signs point to the kids’ violently domineering father (Grant Bowler)—but it soon becomes obvious why: Eva and Zac can teleport to any place they can see.
The nature of their gift remains a mystery, though Palermo does a good job of tapping into the sinister undercurrents of such a cool ability—one scene, in which Eva accidentally kills an adorable bird that she's teleported with, helps us to sympathize with her father’s fears, if not necessarily endorse him. Palermo, whose only previous feature, Rich Hill, was a sobering doc about American poverty, makes a smooth transition to fiction, and his affinity for naturalism—complemented by Shipka and Chalamet’s introspective performances—prevents One and Two from being co-opted by the tired tropes of recent YA fantasies. (A climactic M83 song feels like a poor choice from a lesser film.) Unfortunately, this austere allegory for the difficult process by which kids start to think for themselves only hints at the turbulence of its characters, who are kept at too far a remove for us to feel their growing pains.
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Cast and crew