A melancholic piano piece draws you into the bed of a couple, their back against each other as the sunlight seeps into their room, the morning warmth juxtaposed against their cold relationship. Written and directed by Bishrel Mashbat, ‘Beloved’ explores a fraught marriage between Anar (Iveel Mashbat), who left his country Mongolia to follow his white wife Kassy (Jana Miley) to America.
Set at snail pace, filled with mundane little scenes from the daily life an average person – washing utensils, taking a leak, listening to the radio – ‘Beloved’ feels underwhelming and tedious at times, perhaps a deliberate metaphor for the rut Anar and Kassy are stuck in. Their relationship is stagnant and neither of them does much to fix things, instead they engage in acts that will only break them apart. Their domestic life is shot with a hint of yellow, adding a nostalgic mood to the story, giving the present a ghost-like presence in the film.
While Bishrel Mashbat gets a lot of elements right about the fragile nature of marriages, Iveel Mashbat and Jana Miley unfortunately don’t have any chemistry. And while the script calls for the protagonists to have little emotions left for each other, the actors fail to emote their longing for each other when the plot does require it. The two are plain uncomfortable around the other and Jana Miley is quite wooden, listless… ironically her character Kassy is a struggling actor who doesn’t have much talent.
The challenges of inter-racial marriages is a key theme in the story, but surprisingly, viewers don’t get much insight on the Mongolian way of life. The script is sprinkled with a few Mongolian dialogues, but except for the “it would’ve been easier if he married a Mongolian girl” after-thought, nobody dwells deep on what the real problem is. Because Anar is pretty American in the way he lives his life, so his differences with Kassy run a lot deeper than mere cultural clash. Both of them could’ve been from the same community, religion and yet have come to point where their love fades.
The resentful dialogues between the two were written well, carrying the kind of sarcasm only those who’ve known each other for long can deliver. And the climax was a lot more engaging than the first half of the film. ‘Beloved’ tells a believable tale of broken marriages that is weakened by a cast that couldn’t shoulder their parts.
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