“Twin Flower” is a solid if static on-the-road thriller that loses its way when it stops running.
It’s a quiet character piece with little dialogue, as writer-director Laura Luchetti (“Hayfever”) throws two mismatched teens together in the half-ruined, half-empty South of her native Italy.
Anna’s (Anastasiya Bogach) is the first face we see, fleeing, looking back over her backpacked shoulder at The Bearded Man (Aniello Arena) who means her harm. He’s been bloodied, and the script makes much of being slow to unravel this mystery.
What’s he want with her, why is she so afraid and who can she turn to?
We meet Basim (Kallil Kone) as he tries to hustle up tip money in the parking lot of a local market. He’s been here long enough to speak Italian, but Basim is an undocumented migrant from the Ivory Coast. There is no work for him, and being pushy about it won’t help.
They meet when Basim intervenes in a situation that has become an Italian stereotype. Two creeps on a motorscooter make their lewd interest in her known.
“Pretty girl, all by yourself,” they start in, stating the obvious.
Wherever these two wind up going, “trust” will be Anna’s journey. A man is hunting her. Flashbacks reveal her disappointing father. She’s pretty, looks about 16 or so, and if the stereotype holds — many a male in Italy is a threat. How far can she make it on her own?
Basim stands out even more. No “papers,” no chance at work. He’s headed for “northern Europe,” and he loves to walk. How can he come up with money to feed himself and get there? Aside from accepting rides from strangers, and whatever they have in mind about his “value.”
The picture stops when they stumble into a nursery owner (Giorgio Colangeli) who could use some help. No work for you, eager-but-illegal Basim. But Anna?
Luchetti wants us to be leery of Anna taking this job, fretting over the old man’s motives. She’s slower-than-slow trusting Basim. He’s stuck, with only her money to feed them, and despairs of ever getting away.
The Bearded Man is asking around. And flashbacks show us how Anna got to that opening scene, sprinting away from a crime scene.
The revelations are slow in coming, and predictable to boot.
The two leads relate like gunshy teens, which is almost charming.
And heaven knows, we see precious little of this far-from-the-scenic side of Italy in the movies.
But “Twin Flower” is at its most intriguing when they’re on the move, at its most suspenseful when they’re trying to avoid their fate, which awaits them as soon as The Bearded Man abruptly figures out where they are.
When “Twin Flower” puts down roots — ahem — that’s when it turns pedestrian, static and dull.
MPAA Rating: Unrated, violence, nudity, sex
Cast: Anastasiya Bogach, Kallil Kone, Aniello Arena, Giorgio Colangeli
Credits: Written and directed by Laura Luchetti. A Film Movement release on Film Movement Plus.
Running time: 1:35