Starring: Antonia Campbell-Hughes and Julian Morris.
After a chance meeting in a nightclub in their hometown Liverpool, strangers Kelly and Victor are instantly drawn together in a drug fueled haze. A one night stand sparks an intense dynamic between the two - one that shocks Victor yet inexplicably keeps him hooked. With their relationship darkly masochistic, Victor - discontent with the illegal exploits of friends around him - ironically becomes attached to the destructive bond he shares with Kelly. Likewise Kelly, who is largely isolated from the world, develops a brutal intimacy with Victor - yet it is one which is still hidden from anyone outside of the couple.
A lot is left to be desired with regards to the character of Kelly. Perhaps intended as an enigma, she's depicted as possessing a timid, ethereal quality that attracts the grounded Victor. Drawing him in with vague allusions to their match based on horoscopes, there's little insight into where her violent, masochistic inclinations come from. Matching this against a scene where she expresses reluctance to act as an accomplice to a fantasy game with a prostitute friend, the film seems driven to portray Kelly as a conflicted individual, with only the faintest allusions to her past.
Victor on the other hand is depicted as the weaker link. A grounded family man at heart, he is relatively more at home with societal convention, portrayed in more straightforward scenes of familial duty with his young nephew. There's a degree of inner turmoil as he tries to reconcile this life with the darker, closeted one he shares with Kelly. The implications aren't lost on the two, with Victor in particular conflicted by how grossly conspicuous and taboo their relationship is to conventional society. This ultimately reaches its inevitable breaking point with destructive results.
I would have liked a deeper psychological slant to the film but perhaps leaving it to the audience's imagination made it all the more unsettling. The relationship is closed off to the rest of the world, set to the cloistered backdrops of Kelly's claustrophobic flat or the quiet confines of an art gallery. With sparse dialogue and little character background, Julian Morris and Antonia Campbell-Hughes complement each other well. Morris's earthy characterisation against Campbell-Hughes' tenuous one dramatically highlights the self destructive element of their relationship.
Cinematography-wise, Kelly + Victor celebrates the quiet beauty of Liverpool. There's an emphasis on the simplicity and tranquility of nature where Victor feels most at peace, which only heightens the extremities of Kelly. Her scenes are eerily quiet, with the barest of details in the background, or else in extreme settings of hazy nightclubs and scenes of brutality and violence. With the addition of the brooding Bill Ryder-Jones score providing the ominous overtones, the theme of danger and taboo is apparent throughout much of the film.
A unique look at the dynamics of a deeply dysfunctional relationship. Kelly+ Victor is an intimate, yet uncomfortable portrait of two individuals drawn together in an intense addiction for masochistic gratification.