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By Amy R. Handler | May 20, 2014

Simultaneously heartbreaking and hilarious, Shaun Kosta’s debut feature film, The Republic of Two, is a monumental study of a relationship’s ups, downs and everything in between.

Caroline and Tim are like every other young couple in love, figuring out their goals for the future, and each other. Tim wants to be a doctor and, to that end, works as a researcher at a lab while trying to get references for medical school. Caroline is a talented writer, but works as a receptionist at a publishing agency.

Both are very different— she analytical and intense he, the lazy, hound dog type— but despite all that, both are ready to take the infamous plunge and move in together. The only hitch is the very day they settle into their new place, Caroline and Tim begin to squabble. Unfortunately, instead of making up and growing through their little tiffs together, their problems multiply, typhoon and threaten to blow them apart.

The Republic of Two is labeled a comedy-drama-romance, but the filmmaker is really exploring something more than that. The territory Kosta is veering into is a strange hybrid course of the Neo-realist, status-identity struggle and stark, documentary-style hyper-realism found in such Ingmar Bergman greats as Persona and Scenes from a Marriage.

The result is a comically disarming, pathetically unnerving and unpleasantly universal make-believe, that feels completely authentic. The Republic of Two seems a bit long at 97-minutes, but not in a bad way. The fact that we struggle a bit with the characters, as they meander life and each other, only accentuates what we all go through every day. For a first time filmmaker, Shaun Kosta has managed to create something shockingly powerful, with virtually no flaws in the film’s structure, writing, cinematography or portrayal. I strongly recommend The Republic of Two as the It-Movie of 2014— that will definitely cause you to look twice at your significant other, and yourself.

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