Review: Beloved

Written and directed by Bishrel Mashbat, a young couple struggles to come to terms with the reality of marriage once the romance dissipates. Starring: Iveel Mashbat, Jana Miley, Charletta Rozzell, Kai Williams, Roy Oraschin and Erdenemunkh Tumursukh.

One of the key problems with romance or relationship dramas is that they miss out on a sense of reality, their heads are in the clouds, while Beloved’s opening is immediately grounded. It opens even with almost a coldness, grasping the browbeating quality to life, the mundanity that leads to wanting to give up. For a long portion it holds onto that feeling and lives within an extremely quiet atmosphere, it’s not an easy thing to pull off but it works surprisingly well. It captures the struggle and the growing resentment couples can have towards each other when life just isn’t going their way. This is really where the film is at its strongest, it has a good handle on that reality so when it steps outside of that into something more dramatic and challenging, things get a bit messy.

When things become overt rather than spoken within the silence, the connection between Anar (Iveel Mashbat) and Kassy (Jana Miley), fractured as it may be, is less convincing. Particularly in how they react to one another in the latter stages, the pushing of unnecessary conflict reflects quite poorly on both their characters and knocks down the sympathy. It also misses out on building a more individual personality for both of its leads, the beginnings are there and are enough to create a simple persona but without more detail, it struggles to dig deeper. Leaving it stuck in a more sentimental arena rather than bigger, sincere emotion. Although the performances from Iveel Mashbat and Jana Miley are nicely consistent throughout, they do a good job of portraying the flaws and frustrations of their characters. They do also have a good chemistry, they’re against each other rather than together for a large portion of the film but do still retain a genuine connection.

Visually the film doesn’t just follow the typical lines which is refreshing to see, most relationship dramas are beat for beat what you expect. Meaning that it takes a few risks with its framing and shot choices, they don’t always pay off but they do add a variety to the mix. The only thing it struggles to get a grip on is using nudity and sex. It’s difficult enough to pull off on a bigger budget, so doing it within an indie film is no easy task and it doesn’t quite work here. It adds a slightly offbeat tone which doesn’t match the more understated atmosphere that it builds otherwise.

Beloved explores a grounded story of relationship troubles, a couple who’ve gone deep into a rut well before they were willing to acknowledge it. Iveel Mashbat and Jana Miley provide that conflict well with plenty of resentment, frustrations and some less than clean cut ethics which keep things flowing nicely. Bishrel Mashbat tries to shake things up with his direction, throwing in some unusual angles to stop things from feeling too stereotypical. It’s a solid drama, it’s just missing an extra punch of personality and a more consistent progression to push it further.

Verdict: ✯✯✯ | 6/10

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