The One I Love (Charlie McDowell, 2014)
The One I Love is somewhat difficult to review, as audiences are being advised to know as little about it as possible before viewing. I’d agree that you shouldn’t know too much, but don’t buy into all that beguiling mystery stuff, because that always sets you up for disappointment (remember The Loneliest Planet?). The One I Love is an unusual film. It has been compared with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – both are relationship dramas with fantasy/sci-fi elements. It isn’t the masterpiece that Eternal Sunshine was (due to a few plot holes) but it is solid entertainment and a unique approach to film.
To give a very vague set-up: Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) are experiencing difficulties in their marriage. They go on a holiday retreat to rekindle their relationship. And then stuff happens. Without spoiling anything, this film does get you thinking about relationships and what we want out of them. Outside of the fantasy element it feels surprisingly very real – the dialogue feels natural and the performances by Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss feel genuine. These characters are relatable and also work to shine a light on some of the differences between men and women’s relationship desires.
The plot gets exceedingly more peculiar, and I anticipated a mind-blowing explanation for the unusual events that had unfolded. Unfortunately this never quite comes and a few questions are left unanswered. Nevertheless, the ending was still satisfying, but I’m sure some viewers will see it coming. It reminded me of an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? but better, obviously.
Despite its plot holes, The One I Love is still one of the better films I have seen this year due to its original concept. All the more impressive is that it is director Charlie McDowell’s first feature film, as well as being writer Justin Lader’s feature debut. For first-timers this is quality stuff, and I anticipate that their work can only get better. Remember their names and check out their first effort – it ain’t perfect but it’s getting there.
The One I Love screened at MIFF. General release dates have not yet been confirmed.
WARNING: The trailer doesn’t give too much away, but you may want to avoid it