TWO PEOPLE is the first feature from Perth filmmaker Rob Livings. The two people of the title are played by Liberty Hills and Nick Pages-Oliver. We don’t discover their character names, but she is new to Perth and used to live in Melbourne and he is an actor and comic improviser. The film follows these two as they meet and talk about their lives. Their conversation ranges through the turns and tangents of a discussion between two people who are essentially strangers, finding out who the other person is.
The call on the audience is to listen. We’re eavesdropping on this mid-20s duo, who are trading tidbits of personal data and life experience. It’s like we’re sitting in the next booth, people-watching, playing that game where you attempt to work out the relationships between your fellow café patrons. But for once we’re privy to the conversation at the other table.
Or put it another way, the unobtrusive tech used to capture these performances takes in every detail beautifully and makes the film feel as though it is unfolding naturally. This presenting of “reality” is quite the achievement for a low-budget production. It was shot with the two main actors and a small crew over five days in the streets of Northbridge after dark. As a life-long Perth-dweller, I was delighted to see Hills’ and Pages-Oliver’s characters walking steadily through the city at night. Not Paris. Not New York. Not even Sydney, folks, but this unfamous berg we have chosen to live in. The film captures that long, occasionally deep, conversation you experience when you connect with someone interesting and with whom you just want to keep talking (“Where are you parked? I’m walking that way, too…”).
Or to put it yet another way, Northbridge looks and feels sorta romantic, although there isn’t an ounce of sentimentality in Livings’ character study. Hills and Pages-Oliver improvised the dialogue and their characters rarely do anything obvious or expected. The trick of making a discussion meander naturally, but not peter out into boredom is a difficult one and the actors and the director deserve praise for keeping things humming along. Livings is also responsible for editing the rhythms of this piece.
TWO PEOPLE is a simple film, made with care and nuance. It’s for audiences that enjoy examining the subtle details of character. Pages-Oliver plays a superficially nice guy, but one who is quite guarded. Hills plays a woman who is unwilling to deal with a couple of major contradictions in her new life. There is a pleasure in watching this wary pair circle each other. We will see these actors in other things and it feels like a safe bet that Livings will direct even more complex projects with bigger budgets. (7.5/10)
See our interview with Rob Livings here.
Perthians, If you would like to see a different view of your home town there is a premiere screening of TWO PEOPLE at 6:30pm, Cinema Paradiso, Northbridge on Monday 26 June, 2017. All funds raised by ticket sales for the premiere will go towards film festival entry fees and the production costs of the production team’s next film, shooting in July. Why not support these filmmakers as well as getting a first look at a new Western Australian film. Tickets can be purchased here.