Movies about romantic relationships have tried all sorts of tricks to try and distinguish themselves from others in the overcrowded genre. The One I Love is the latest to try something special, utilizing a bit of science fiction to mix things up.
The couple at the center of the film is Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss), who’ve run into a bit of a rough patch in their marriage. At the advice of their therapist (Ted Danson), they go to a house in the country to try and revitalize their relationship, hoping the time away from their normal life will do them good.
The interesting thing about the film is how normal it makes the abnormal appear.
What they find at the house is definitely unusual, but what exactly that is should remain a secret until you’ve had a chance to see the film. Their discovery sparks a series of events that has them reexamining what they want out of marriage and if they can actually get that with each other.
The interesting thing about the film, directed by Charlie McDowell and written by Justin Lader, is how normal it makes the abnormal appear. Unless you’re suffering from a mental illness, you’ve likely never encountered anything like Ethan and Sophie go through, but the film frames it in such a way as to make it almost seem matter-of-fact.
It’s not until the final act that the film gets truly strange, and even then it’s somewhat mild. The film’s biggest accomplishment is keeping the focus on the ups and downs in Ethan and Sophie’s relationship, not any weirdness that they see. McDowell and Lader play upon notions of nostalgia and unrealistic expectations to explore a relationship in a way you’ve never seen one explored before.
Duplass and Moss are two relatively well-known actors who turn the independent film into their own small play. They interact with each other nicely, delivering moment after moment that feel true, especially for anyone who’s been married or in a long-term relationship.
The One I Love is a nice departure from the same old romances studios usually dole out — and proof that there is still some originality in the filmmaking world.