The setup for Two Times You (Dos Veces Tú) sounds intriguing. Two couples are out at an event. Daniela and Rodrigo (Melissa Barrera and Mariano Palacios) are ridiculously attractive. Daniela’s cousin, Tania (Anahí Dávila), is worried that she’s missing out making her life feel more boring. She’s married to Benny (Daniel Adissi), who has antediluvian views of the role of a wife in a marriage. The couples get pretty wasted, and the women decide to each go home with the other’s husband. The problem is one of the cars crashes, killing the partners of the people in the other vehicle. The surviving widow and widower must now try to navigate the mistrust and rumors in their community, the loss of their friend and lover, and the strange position concerning one another that they are put in.
That’s just the beginning, and it doesn’t begin to capture the magic of Two Times You. The story is told out of order; leaving viewers to slowly piece together what happened (the setup mentioned above happens right at the beginning). Without giving too much away, let’s say that the movie is not constrained to the rules our reality obeys. IMDB lists the genres of the movie as Drama, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance, Thriller, and it fits squarely into all those categories. Imagine putting Pulp Fiction, Memento, Sliding Doors, Abre Los Ojos, Mulholland Drive and Y Tu Mamá También in a blender. That still doesn’t quite capture it, because Two Times You has such a unique style that it is a singular vision.
The director and writer, Salomón Askenazi, has done a phenomenal job. I could actually tell you beat-by-beat what happens in the movie, and it would still be just as enjoyable as the film’s style alone makes it a must-see. And when I say style, I mean everything — the set design, cinematography, the look of the actors, editing, and music.
“…pretty wasted, the women decide to each go home with the other’s husband.”
These actors are charismatic as hell. Askenazi knows exactly how to capture them in a way that makes you want to climb right into the screen and live in that world with them. Though this is a Mexican production, he makes excellent use of popular American music like Fleet Foxes and Father John Misty. The actor who plays Benny (Daniel Adissi) even contributed to the soundtrack. And I want to give a shout-out to the set design and art direction by Christian Gallardo and Connie Martinez. Each couple has a distinctive look to their apartment that informs their characters. And while we’re at it, cinematographer Beto Casillas should get a prize because the shots and the lighting in this movie are something else. The scenes span a wide range of conditions, from nighttime cityscape flyovers, to the rooftop shots, to intimate bedroom scenes, and they all look amazing.
Apparently, there were something like 20 edits of this movie, and I can see why. The puzzle pieces fit together in so many ways. The editing by Jorge García has a certain pace — each scene is a whole moment, but when a new one starts you’re often not sure where it belongs in time. The result is that you are really never sure what comes next. This is exacerbated by some extremely strange things goings on, like something out of a David Lynch film. As a result, there’s an air of mystery hanging over everything.
“…the film’s style alone makes it a must-see. And when I say style, I mean everything…”
There’s one way of doing mystery that really pisses me off, and that is introducing strangeness just for the sake of it, with no real idea about how to resolve it (e.g., Inland Empire). At the other extreme, if your plot is too predictable, there’s no mystery at all. Two Times You is almost perfectly balanced — there’s a thematic point to every mysterious thing, even if it isn’t all entirely logical. I say almost because there were a few times when I felt things went a touch overboard — one scene had a deliciously strange spooky + sexy feeling, and a completely confounding effect on subsequent scenes, but it just felt so blasted into another universe as to lose the audience a bit. Most of the time this works in the film’s favor though. The result is like most great art — there are things to read in, but they aren’t wrapped up in a bow. You end up thinking about what it all means for hours.
While the male actors are great in the movie, I really want to call out the two female leads. Melissa Barrera has been on several TV series in Mexico, though I had never seen her in anything. Wow, does she have a commanding screen presence. The more significant role though is that of Tania, and Anahí Dávila, a relative newcomer, absolutely nails the performance. She really surprised me, as I thought I had her character pegged, only to have her completely pull the rug out from under me. She had to span a wide range of emotions from grief to joy, and with respect to the other characters, innocence to seductress. She excels at them all.
Two Times You isn’t a movie I can explain in words because it really is a cinematic experience — the music, look, acting, and editing are all essential. Only a few times in my life have I wanted to watch a movie immediately again after it is over, but this is one of them. To me, the greatest rush in watching movies is to find a new director I’ve never heard of, but one I know I’ll be watching every film they make. That’s certainly the case with Salo Askenazi.
Two Times You a.k.a. Dos Veces Tú (2019) Written and directed by Salomón Askenazi. Starring Melissa Barrera, Anahí Dávila, Daniel Adissi. Two Times You (Dos Veces Tú) screened at the 2019 Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
Rating: 9.5 / 10