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A bitter marriage threatens to ruin everything, as two people become joyless cheaters and hypocrites - American indie shows in film festivals across the globe.

There is still fear about the ending of a doomed relationship; a regret about how things played out, a worry about what the future holds, and becoming sorry and bitter about all that wasted time for nothing. But sometimes, such a relationship should be treated like a plaster, ripped clean off without thinking and quickly thrown in the bin before you move on to your next escapade. Beloved is based around a relationship like this; a bitter marriage that has led two people to become hypocrites, unapologetic cheaters who berate one another’s career choices and lead a life of drinking that an addict might say is too much. The relationship is doomed from the beginning, we can all see that, so why can’t they?

Beloved is the latest film from Bishrel Mashbat and it revolves around the self-destructive marriage of Anar and Kassy (Iveel Mashbat and Jana Miley), a young couple who claim to have been in love once but let it slip through their hands in an instant. After five years of bliss, they woke up to a completely different reality; stuck in a cycle of house chores, unattainable dreams, routine work, financial struggles, and boredom, the promise of a life of love has long been extinguished. The tension in the couple’s marriage is apparent from minute one; the silence is deafening and the disdain they have for one another is intense – a loveless marriage like this can be an atom bomb of destruction.

The film does have an alluring aesthetic and the incandescent colours are what become noticeable first. It gives the false allure of a film that is warm and comforting, but is soon squashed by the first appearance of the couple and their steely demeanour, and yet, a warmish glow remains throughout – a signifier of hope, maybe love? Who knows? There are a lot of things that try to evoke a happier tone like the classical music that is used at various points throughout. It provides a feeling of melancholy with the idea that all actions have consequences, and that this couple should be responsible for these actions. It doesn’t quite hit the required note though (pun intended), and often feels out of place – it’s a nice selection of songs.

The problem the film has is that the couple are both incredibly unlikeable, in fact, you don’t really feel anything for them, they’re just a bit… meh. They lack any form of emotion or empathy, and even at their most joyful (which isn’t very often either) they are somewhat joyless. Whether it’s a combination of how the characters were written or the uninspiring acting itself, whatever the cause though, some form of invigoration was needed in both performances to allow us to try and connect with them at the very least.

Beloved also suffers from some lack of plot cohesiveness. There is an idea that time is supposed to be nature’s healer, or as the old proverb says, “absence makes the heart grow fonder”, but in this scenario, is it even worth it? Over a six-month period away from each other, Kassy develops a new lustful relationship before slipping back into a hate-filled one before our eyes (maybe she’s the one lousy constant, food for thought). Whereas Anar chooses a life of unbridled joy, sex, drinking, and the possibility of unplanned fatherhood – you could say that their bad luck and misery mean that they are made for each other, but surely not?

Beloved has played in various film festivals around the globe. Stay tuned for a VoD release in the UK.

By John McDonald - 04-08-2022

Failing from the seaside town of Southport but now living in Liverpool, John McDonald has had a passion for cinema since he was a small child. The westerns of John Wayne were his gateway into the cine...

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