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Review: Beloved

Title: Beloved
Director: Bishrel Mashbat
Starring: Iveel Mashbat, Jana Miley, Charletta Rozzell
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Runtime: 1 hr 32 min

What It Is: A young couple struggles to come to terms with the reality of marriage once the romance dissipates.

What We Think: Bishrel Mashbat is a filmmaker I’ve had my eyes on ever since I saw his picture In The Land Of Lost Angels over a year ago. What he accomplished with a tight budget and a refreshingly subversive script was something I deeply admired – and with his new venture, the same stays true. This is a filmmaker who’s got the style I would like to describe in a quote from the great Teddy Roosevelt: “do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. Mashbat, directing a great cast and displaying calculated shot composition/cinematography, does exactly that to the best of his ability here.

Iveel Mashbat and Uyanga Mashbat return from In The Land Of Lost Angels, once again performing both in English and Mongolian. They’re in completely different roles this time around, but their performances are terrific nonetheless. Iveel is most impressive in particular, playing the role of a husband who means well, but has a complex issue at his core that comes out in the worst of times. Jana Miley wonderfully plays his wife, who also buckles under their hollow relationship to fulfill her own needs at a dangerous cost. It’s sometimes difficult showing a long-term relationship at its wit end onscreen, but chemistry-wise, these two sell their history well. It’s not only in their performances though – the visual aspects of Beloved contribute significantly to these character relationships (at an all-time high), and it’s Mashbat’s best-looking film to date.

Presented in a letterbox format, the camera barely moves, and only does when it absolutely has to. This may seem like a negative, but within this particular story, it’s a brilliant way to showcase the stillness in our main character’s hearts. The use of natural light is remarkable (albeit some shots are a tad blown out), the coloring is soft with a steady vibrancy, and the framing for almost every still shot is very well done. Long takes and interesting angles are peppered throughout these frames, and the sound mix is crisp and clear. One more thing: I had mentioned in my review of In The Land Of Lost Angels that it had the charm of a film one could’ve made over the weekend with friends. Well, Beloved possesses the depth of a film that one of those friends would’ve made years down the line after having learned about love, loss, and ultimately, relationships.

Our Grade: A-; A worthy follow-up to his previous feature, Bishrel Mashbat touches upon an intimate subject with stellar actors, beautiful images, and a noticeable recurring style that I hope to see once again in the future!

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