Film Review::. Two: 2

The inside track on Two 2, with our resident reviewer Tom Gledhill.

Two: 2

Two 2 is the debut feature length film from much lauded short-filmmakers the Roberts brothers. Expanding on the visual style of their 2009 short Shiver Me Timbers, the film jumps between real-life, narrated homemovies from the brothers’ early childhood in Mansfield and rudimentary, often inexplicably politically-charged hand-drawn animation.

Utilising an array of vintage and now defunct equipment and film-stock, footage of family gatherings overlaps with the brothers’ trademark ‘Scribble/Scratch’ handdrawn animation. This style is at its most immersive in an early sequence in which the two brothers, dressed head-to-toe in Mickey Mouse-adorned clothing, repeatedly climb and jump down a small slide while being chased by profusely salivating, shadowy and bespectacled figures—accompanied by titillating narration of early sexual experiences in the present day. At their stylistic peak, these sequences (often drawn physically onto the frames themselves) form a weird kind of synthesis with the underlying found-footage, creating a visually outlandish and absurdly funny artistic juggling act. Other sequences form completely separate stories with their own agendas and are, on the whole, distinctly less impressive. An odd interlude, with its separate style of digital illustration, entitled ‘White Flan’s Burden’, is egregious in both its departure from the kinds of old-school techniques that light up the rest of the film and its crass attempts at social commentary. Set in a world populated by desserts divided across racial lines, a downtrodden flan and an obstinate cinnamon roll become entangled in a fatal altercation after a dramatic traffic collision.

Set in a world populated by desserts divided across racial lines, a downtrodden flan and an obstinate cinnamon roll become entangled in a fatal altercation after a dramatic traffic collision.

As joyously silly as its premise sounds, both the co-opted caricature of black language on display and the use of characters who perpetuate unhelpful and pernicious archetypes offer next to nothing with regards to substantive social commentary. Add painfully overwrought moralising to this mess and the segment barely stands taller than the comically misjudged John Travolta movie its title is (more than) likely parodying.

Ramshackle patchwork-quilt of ideas

As uniquely meandering as Two 2 is, the sickeningly thick layers of different media and materials squabble amongst themselves so fiercely to elicit contradictory reactions from the audience that, ultimately, nothing can be heard clearly over all the noise. Although Craig and Oliver Roberts have an undeniably original voice and a raw bombastic energy unlike anything offered in the world of cinema at the moment, a more polished mixture of their puerile yet profound style would have elevated Two 2 into genuinely exciting cinematic territory. Instead, we’re presented with a ramshackle patchwork-quilt of ideas that barely qualifies as a whole, but is at the very least an entertaining, if misjudged, artistic venture.