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The Independent Critic

Nick Cardiff, Katherine Cunningham, John Rushing, Giota Trakas
Michael P. Noens
75 Minutes

 "Two Days in February" Review 
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It was a word I'd never used before said in the heat of a passionate argument with Michelle, a way out of my league beautiful, caring and intelligent blonde whose name had already been emblazoned on my arm as we'd both pictured living out our lives with one another.

It's not like we'd never fought before, but this fight was different as our words spewed forth with greater intensity and what felt like a back-and-forth series of verbal jousts designed not necessarily to resolve a conflict but to genuinely, perhaps permanently, wound one another.

When Michelle and I broke up not long after this fight, days and weeks of personal reflection always took me back to this episode of verbal jousting that had, perhaps, created wounds that could not heal and destroyed trust that could not be restored. I've often envisioned myself being the gallant knight confidently plunging in the sword that kills as I gave voice to the word I instantly regretted when I screamed "You are being such a c**t."

It is the one word you never call a woman, because if you do you not only don't deserve her love but she will never trust you again.

With Two Days in February, writer/director Michael P. Noens has created his most emotionally resonant and profoundly moving film to date. Two Days in February weaves its way gently and patiently through the memories of one young man, Grant (Nick Cardiff), struggling to construct the memories within his heart and mind that will allow him to discern the moment when his long-distance relationship with Val (Katherine Cunningham) began to fail and to determine whether to let go or fight for her.

Noens has acknowledged weaving together both fact and fiction in the making of Two Days in February, infusing the film with actual memories from his past and combining them with fiction. The result is a film with startling intimacy, a film that looks and feels and literally breathes life in every frame of its modest 75-minute running time.

While its running time may be considered slight, Noens paces his film beautifully and neither wastes a minute of screen time nor stretches this story beyond what it needs to be. While the temptation in these types of existential journey films is often to wax eloquently and to create moments of profound drama, Noens instead constructs a film that rests easily upon the little moments and benchmark events that we so often use to define our relationships.

The first kiss. The first time having sex. The moments of silence under starlit nights. The laughter. The fights. The make-up sex.

It is impossible to watch Two Days in February without becoming immersed in the lives of Grant and Val while also reflecting upon your own relationships - a first love? maybe a last love? maybe the one that got away?

Two Days in February is cast perfectly, especially in terms of its leading players. Nick Cardiff exudes a rich humanity and a rich vulnerability even when hiding behind his wall of machismo-tinged woundedness. The beauty of Cardiff's performance is that he allows Grant to fully experience this journey with a sense of surrender rather than self-awareness. It's this journey that makes us self-aware, and watching the journey unfold through Cardiff's performance is simply a beautiful experience.

The same is true, but in a different way, with the performance of Katherine Cunningham as Val, a young woman who serves as Grant's guide through the memories she helped to create. Cunningham's sense of surrender as Val matches beautifully with that of Cardiff's, her vulnerability and awareness even more emotionally raw because she seems to more fully understand all that has unfolded.

As stellar as is the acting, Two Days in February is also a tremendous technical achievement. D.P. Danny Crook's camera work capitalizes tremendously on the intimacy of Noens' script while also pulling off the oft-dreaded "flashback" sequences that could have sabotaged the film yet only enhance its emotional power. Christopher Joye's original music serves as the perfect companion for the film by becoming vibrant in some moments and almost meditative in others. Lori Bohner's production design also successfully dances that fine line between intimacy and melancholy with shadowy sets and a sense of naturalism that fits the mood perfectly.

Only recently completed, Two Days in February is the latest film from CNGM Pictures, a Chicago area non-profit organization doing amazing things for the indie and microcinema scene including sponsoring the Microcinema Fest and presenting the Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival.

For more information on Two Days in February, visit the film's website and be sure to "like" it on Facebook to stay up-to-date on what will unquestionably be a rewarding festival run with hopefully even better things to come.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic