20-somethings Kelly and Victor are living rather dead-end lives in Liverpool when they meet at a club one night. They head back to her place, take a few drugs and end up having incredibly passionate sex. This starts a relationship between the two that gets increasingly intense as they introduce autoerotic asphyxiation, a little S&M and cutting into their sexual encounters.
The film comes to DVD fresh from garnering a BAFTA nomination for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer for Kieran Evans. Coming from the world of documentaries Evans shows a lot of promise with Kelly + Victor, although it would probably help if he could be a little less precious about things.
There’s a huge amount of potential in the story, and Antonia Campbell-Hughes and Julian Morris give incredibly committed and open performances as two young people leading slightly fractured lives who find nihilistic escape in one another. However there’s a pretentious edge to what’s going on around them, where it’s difficult not to feel that the filmmakers have spent so much time impressing themselves with their artistic airs that they forgot somewhat about the audience.
The result is that parts of the movie work extremely well and really pack a punch both emotionally and cerebrally. However just as many moments seem like a complicated way of saying not too much. It’s a film that wants to leave it to the audience to piece certain things together, but there aren’t really that many pieces to play with, and what there is lacks depth. That’s problematic as so much of the film centres on what the title characters are getting out their steamy sexual relationship, but outside that they often seem more like ciphers than fully fleshed out people.
It’s also yet another British movie that wants to show the grimness of certain sections of society, but mistakes grit for realism. Underneath the documentary-style hand-held camerawork and deprived Liverpool scenery it’s a rather over the top melodrama, but it doesn’t quite realise that due to how much it’s patting itself on the back. It could have still worked extremely well with a little more psychological depth, but sadly it doesn’t have it.
Overall Verdict: Kelly + Victor shows a lot of promise but it’s all a little too affected, to the point where for every extremely effective sequence there’s another that’s more pleased with itself than satisfying for an audience.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac