Some films, like the bad ones and the really good ones, are quite easy to write about and the process is a ton of fun. The joy I get from writing about something I either loved or hated is a great reminder of why I love doing this. Then you have your middle-of-the-road films, which take some more time and exploration of why they’re not great, but also not bad. Lastly, there are the types of films that are so hard to talk about because you’re worried you may give too much away, or because the plot is somewhat confusing. Writing about this film was certainly difficult and if my writing doesn’t convince you to go and see it, please just take my word on it. You won’t be sorry.
After having such a glorious first date that they’ll never forget, Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) started seeing one another and eventually got married later on down the road. They had such immediate and wonderful chemistry together and it’s hard to ever think that they could be struggling as a couple. As it turns out, they are having marital issues and this is brought to the attention of their therapist (Ted Danson). The two just seem out-of-sync and they’re having trouble addressing the issues in their lives.
Though things seemed grim for the couple, their therapist had a few ideas as to how he could save the marriage and help the couple rekindle their love. He owns a nice getaway house in a relatively underpopulated area and it has all the amenities that one would find in a resort. The idea is that they’ll spend the weekend there, walk around the gardens, go swimming, eat together, and find that spark they once had. However, the couple does a little bit more than that when things start to get unbelievable between the two of them. Issues of trust and jealousy arise, but in the strangest of fashions. More than anything, they seem to have a more weird experience than most would.
The One I Love is one of the most interesting, thought-provoking films of the year and its cast elevates it to another level entirely. With such a small cast and such a “simple” story, this film really makes an impact and is such a delightful watch. I’ve seen this film a few times now and it gets better with each viewing, as I find little things in the performances and a greater explanation of the unique story. More than anything, the film says a lot about marriage, human wants and needs, and some of the thoughts that we often find ourself thinking while in a relationship.
Mark Duplass is becoming one of my favorite actors, as he’s shown some outstanding range in much of his independent work. Here, Duplass is trying to move on in his relationship after having cheated on Moss, but he finds her wanting to go back to why he did it. He’s trying his best to keep her happy and to find that love they once had, but he’s getting a lot of pushback. Duplass has a very subtle humor to him and his little looks and exclamations that he shows in response to a situation, are absolutely hilarious. For him, he’s the realist in the relationship and he thinks on a different frequency, which causes frustration for him when Moss wants to do something he deems illogical.
Elisabeth Moss, who does outstanding work on Mad Men and Top of the Lake, adds yet another wonderful performance to her resume with this film. She displays heartache and hurt with her eyes, while the rest of her is trying to show love for Duplass. She yearns for answers and for the man she once had and she can’t help but imagine how she would change her husband. How different, yet similar he’d be and how he’d explain himself to her. Moss is more willing to try new things to make the relationship to work and she uses certain things against Duplass, in order to get what she wants. She’s not manipulative, but she knows what she wants and she knows that Duplass wants to makeup for his wrongdoings.
I believe that we’ve all made mistakes in our lives and some of us in our relationships and we all have those moments that we wish that we could take back. It’s not crazy that we imagine the ones we love being better, or more perfect versions of themselves. We all keep quiet when it comes to what we’d change about one another, but we still think it. This film plays with that concept and has fun with it, as the characters explore what they may, or may not want to change about each other. Their reactions are priceless, especially Duplass’, as he tries to figure out what Moss really wants. This concept allows for some witty banter, relationship questioning, and some emotional moments that will resonate with you.
Director Charlie McDowell chooses to focus on shots from afar, allowing us to take in the surrounding scenery and experience what the characters are witnessing. He also provides us with necessary close-ups when he wants us to feel what the characters are feeling, which I loved. Writer Justin Lader has really knocked it out-of-the-park with this script, as it balances smart and funny, but also keeps you guessing the whole way through. You’re never quite sure where the conversations will take you, but you know you’re always in for a surprise and an interesting time. Together, these two create a masterful film that’s sure to captivate their audience and prompt multiple viewings, just as what happened with me.
The One I Love is certainly a tough film to write about and without saying too much, is a hard film to summarize. It’s one that you’re really going to have to take my word on and if you do, you’ll be greatly rewarded for it. I’ve found myself recommending this film to everyone I can, because it’s such a unique little film that features two of the best performances of the year and it’s one of the best scripts of the year too.
The One I Love Trailer