IFC’s new film One & Two might be the most understated superhero movie to come around in forever.
There have been a few films over the years that try and tackle what it would be like to have supernatural powers in our reality. Most films that involve the superhuman attempt to show a struggle when it comes to powered-folk but those films are usually already rooted deeply in universes that assume either a canonical world from comic books (Man Of Steel, X-Men, Spider-Man) or are a slight parody on the super-powered genre in general (Kick-Ass, Sky High, The Incredibles). Some have even come close to capturing the awe of having powers and in some cases make a decent effort at showing some sort of learning curve when it comes to super-human abilities (Jumper, Chronicle, Unbreakable).
One of the problems with films like this, and maybe the way we as an audience expect films to be, is that the third acts are almost always the same: Super-powered people who struggled have now mastered what they maybe sort of hated at first and are able to save the day in some final battle with whatever foe that was absolutely impossible to beat in act 2. It’s not that this is a bad formula. In fact, it’s successful for a reason and is a story we as human beings have been telling for as long as we’ve be able to tell stories – think David & Goliath and pretty much every Greek myth.
There is a refreshing shift in that format though – these films are becoming more grounded in reality or at least the assumed reality in which super powers can exist. Grittier films like the Nolan Batman movies (Batmans? Batmen?), the upcoming Fantastic 4 still have the unbelievable worlds but have seemed to make sure to include consequence and a solid attempt at real human reactions. This is even more apparent with non-blockbuster films that are given more freedom to be what they were intended to be while not having to answer to any gigantic studio. Enter: IFC’s One & Two.
Seemed like I was getting a bit off track there but after watching the trailer for One & Two there are two things in particular to notice in the the world that’s built in the two and a half minute clip that may set this apart from most other superpower films:
1. Although the trailer hints at building some sort of adventure, it doesn’t appear it will be a fun one for the characters.
2. Fear. The fear of the unknown, of disobeying one’s family, of growing as a person. The fear of change in general.
The supernatural abilities of siblings Eva (Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka) and Zac (Homeland’s Timothée Chalamet) – that appear to be at LEAST teleportation – are something they’ve apparently been forbidden to use. Their father, played by Grant Bowler (Defiance), appears to be both terrifying to his children and wife while also looking quite terrified himself. Whatever his children can do, it appears he may know the cost and or consequence to letting them out into the world. Are his fears legitimate? Does he hope to truly protect his children from the outside world or is it the other way around? If the children disobey, are they merely tearing their family apart or is the potential outcome worse?
The powers certainly appear to play a major role in this film but if the trailer is any indication, they won’t take center stage. They seem to act as a catalyst for a sincere and mysterious thriller which is refreshing in the usual 3rd act power free-for-all that modern superpower movies have come to rely on.
What are your thoughts on One & Two? Am I completely missing the fact this might be a gritty re-imagining of Dr. Seuss characters “Thing 1 and Thing 2”? Let me know in the comments below.