Director: Kieran Evans
Cast: Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Julian Morris
Watch Kelly + Victor online in the UK: BFI Player+ / BFI Player / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
Sex. Drugs. Strangling. Anything that distracts from everyday life is the order of the day for Kelly (Campbell-Hughes) and Victor (Morris). The young couple meet at a nightclub in Liverpool and almost immediately hit it off. In a very naughty sense of the word.
Director Kieran Evans makes it clear from the outset that this is no sugar-coated relationship or a match made in heaven. Asphyxiation and physical harm are the bedfellows of this pair’s lust: their romance would make Richard Curtis run a mile. If the suffocation scenes don’t do it, the fact that it’s not set in a chocolate-boxed-up London certainly would.
Slouching around the grim city with no money and little prospects, the film – and their lives – flash into colour when they take their clothes off. While his friends turn to drugs to make ends meet, Julian Morris’ wide-eyed innocent becomes increasingly dependent on Antonia Campbell-Hughes’ intriguingly gaunt girlfriend to survive the monotony of existence. When she starts etching her initials into his back during one extreme piece of intercourse, he hates it – but still finds himself thinking about it for weeks afterwards.
Editor Tony Kearns inserts the flashbacks abruptly into Victor’s daily schedule. As they become increasingly intense, Piers McGrail’s cinematography fills the screen with shots of nature and fluttering tree branches; quiet bouts of green beauty contrasting the sudden bursts of red pain. It’s that unglamourised, raw quality that makes Kelly + Victor such a shocking and compelling watch. Based on Niall Griffiths’ novel, this tale of love gone wrong exposes the emptiness that our leads both need to be filled – then gazes into the darkness with an unblinking eye.
Is it sentimental? Yes, but it’s far from sweet. The gradual falling apart of Morris’ lovesick twenty-something is horrible to see, but the intimacy Evans brings to the tale keeps you engaged all the way to the bitter conclusion.
Sex. Drugs. Strangling. You won’t need any of those to distract you from everyday life. Kelly + Victor is a graphic, gripping, moving anti-romance.