Two Times You (Dos Veces Tú) (2018)

“I feel kind of edgy,” Tania Cohen (Anahi Dávila) tells her cousin, best friend and ‘soul mate’ Daniela Cohen (Melissa Barrera) as they prepare for a friend’s wedding reception at the opening of Salomón Askenazi’s Two Times You (Dos Veces Tú). Their conversation is intercut with shots of an upset Tania walking alone down an urban street at night, her mascara smudged by tears. This cross-cutting introduces its own tensions – between before and after, event and aftermath, beginning and end – as Tania’s edgy feelings prove a premonition, infecting the mood of all that follows, and leading, somehow, to her eventual isolation, alienation and anguish 

At the wedding, Tania and Daniela are with their respective fiancés, chauvinistic Benny (Daniel Adissi) and good-natured Rodrigo (Mariano Palacios). On a drunken whim the women agree to swap rôles, pretending to be one another. “I think you are mixed up,” comments Rodrigo – and soon they are mixing it up on the dance floor, each with the other’s man. They drive home with one another’s partners too – but on the way, there is an accident, leaving two of the mismatched revellers dead, and the other two to pick up the pieces, as the wedding from which they just departed is soon replaced by a funeral.

At this point Two Times You divides into a pair of (occasionally, irrationally overlapping) narratives, Sliding Doorsstyle. In one of these it is Tania and Rodrigo who survive, and in the other, Daniela and Benny. Struggling to cope with their grief, Daniela and Tania visit one another’s apartments (on different floors in the same building), see each other in their memories and dreams, dress in one another’s clothes, sleep in one another’s beds, and are even haunted by one another’s posthumous presence. Both – separately and alone – visit the building’s roof where they used to spend time together, and are drawn to the edge.

Set amid the Jewish bourgeoisie of Mexico, and inspired by the intense relationship that Askenazi’s wife shares with her best friend and cousin, Two Times You unfolds twin tales of loss, guilt and recrimination. As the two women try to process their mixed-up feelings, the viewer too is thrown into confusion by the paradoxical nature of their parallel storylines, unsure how to determine what is real, and what is merely dream, fantasy or magic (Tania’s car is hit by the van of a travelling magician). 

A sense of disorientation is accomplished through some very fluid editing, linking two worlds that cannot logically coexist. The result is a strange existential mystery, as two soul mates – one living, one dead – continue to engage in rôle switching, and to internalise one another’s identity. Here the only way back to selfhood is through an exploration of alterity, and an imagining of how different things might have been – and both women know each other so intimately and play this game so well that we remain uncertain which one is conjuring the other. The differences, however, between them abide – only one of them sleeps with the other’s fiancé, and while one has a death wish, the other is driven by a desire for revenge. One way or another, though, life will go on, no matter how much it is lived – as always – on the edge of death.

© Anton Bitel