Movie Review: The One I Love

by Dan Fields

Mark Duplass and Elizabeth Moss discover a new side of their marriage in The One I Love
© 2014 RADiUS-TWC

Remember That Weekend When…?

From director Charlie McDowell and producers the Duplass Brothers comes The One I Love, a curious tale about being with the one you love and loving the one you’re with which could send Stephen Stills to the madhouse. It is no good to summarize the film in the ordinary detail, since most of the plot hangs on an early twist. Sophie (Elizabeth Moss, Mad Men, Top Of The Lake) and Mark Duplass (The League, Safety Not Guaranteed) are a married couple in therapy for a marital strain that threatens to drive them apart. They are beset by romantic memories of their early time together, but cannot rekindle the old flame they once had. Their therapist (Ted Danson) rents them a secluded house for a weekend of privacy and quality time.

Both Sophie and Ethan apply themselves gamely to getting along and having some fun, but each begins to notice curious inconsistencies that point in mysterious directions. Their quest to uncover the truth becomes an exercise in mutual trust and devotion that promises to unite or split them for good.

At face value, this is a novel and entertaining drama about love and romance. Further down, are clever metaphors for the joys and pitfalls of any adult relationship. We always want to be our best selves around the people we love, but we have little control over when our better or worse qualities display themselves. Spontaneity accounts for such a large part of attraction that we may find it impossible to synthesize or recapture a bygone feeling, strong as it was when we first felt it.

The One I Love is a fable which presents the difficulties of enduring love, without necessarily suggesting how or even whether they can be fixed. This is a good-looking movie, with greed wooded exteriors and warm tones all throughout the quaint getaway home. Even so, the camera often sits in small spaces with limited perspective, sometimes giving a feeling of intimacy, sometimes of confinement. The score is nicely placed to help keep the story at the right pitch – serious themes, but with a light tone to avoid dragging. With almost all the screen time share between them, Moss and Duplass put in commendable work. Having to play nuanced, multidimensional characters in a most unusual way, they still have the natural chemistry of characters who have known and loved each other for years. It is not a dynamic or forceful film, but the depth and intelligence of the script, in the hands of capable performers, make The One I Love well worth your attention.