Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss star as, respectively, Ethan and Sophie. They're a married couple currently going through a bit of a tough patch. In an effort to help them improve their relationship, their counsellor (Ted Danson) sends them to a lovely getaway cottage for a weekend break. And it looks like it might work some magic on them. But then things start to get a bit strange. And then even stranger.
I can't say any more about The One I Love without spoiling the premise, so this is going to be a pretty difficult review to write. I will start by simply saying how good Duplass and Moss are in their roles. Being allowed to show their characters in varying degrees of love with one another allows them to work together in creating a relationship that feels very real. It's not perfect, and those imperfections end up somehow making you root for the two of them to work things out. Because few relationships, if any, are perfect. They all need to be worked at, which is often easier said than done. Sometimes you just want to forget things and move on, but the harder option can make the relationship stronger. Duplass and Moss reflect those feelings perfectly. Fans of Mary Steenburgen should keep their ears peeled for a vocal cameo, and Danson does well with his small role.
Director Charlie McDowell does a great job, putting all of the pieces in place before leading viewers to a third act that's filled with a surprising amount of tension (I know, I know, you're curious now . . . . . . . well, you'll just have to check it out for yourself), and Justin Lader helps out a lot by providing a script that is, by turns, smart, amusing, unnerving, and very interesting. The premise may veer into the fantastical, but it's full of many recognisable moments, from the awkwardness of a couple trying to deliberately act relaxed and happy around one another while tensions simmer to the way in which people can remember just why they love their other half, despite being infuriated by them.
There's really very little else that I can say about the movie. The technical work is great, with particular praise due to the editing, the tone is pitched perfectly, and it's an enjoyably unique experience. Some people will undoubtedly find the whole thing a bit too weird. They will give up or describe it to other people as "that crazy film we watched the other night". But those who respond to it will, I think, respond strongly. It's destined to find a relatively small, but loyal, fanbase.
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