August 29, 2014
The One I Love
Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 2 MIN.
Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) retreat to a vacation house on the advice of their marriage counselor (Ten Danson). They've drifted apart, much to their dismay, and they're hoping to find one another again. They succeed... but in a way that plunges them into deep weirdness.
Look around for reviews of this film, and you'll encounter the same apologetic message time and again: It's not really possible to say much without spoiling the film's surprises.
What I can tell you is this: Had "The One I Love" been an episode of "The Twilight Zone" (which Duplass has occasion to reference, in a moment of stupefaction for Ethan) it would have worked a treat. On the big screen, with a running time of an hour and a half, the story's flaws are impossible to ignore. (Once again, I can't offer specifics.)
That doesn't mean there's not plenty of wry fun here, mixed with relationship angst. Moss plays Sophie with a bright, sunny surface and undercurrents of nagging discontent that only grow as the movie progresses; Duplass pulls off a range that bounces from desperate insecurity, even self-loathing, to confident charm. Writer Justin Laderand director Charlie McDowell create a sense of intrigue that plucks at the viewer's dread and curiosity in equal measure, with the first part of the film becoming progressively stranger and more provocative. A twist in the middle risks dumping all the story's momentum, but succeeds in not only preserving a sense of bafflement, but also deepening the emotional stakes. It's only in the final stretch that things start falling apart.
Oh, well. Terrific ideas for setups don't always come with equally terrific notions for resolutions. In that way, movies and relationships are more alike than different -- a fact that the film remembers to wink at with a final (if predictable) jolt.
Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.