Starring Mark Duplass and Elizabeth Moss, 'The One I Love' is an extremely nontraditional, unusual, and unique type of romantic comedy-drama that blends love, science fiction, and imagination together. Premiering at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, this indie flick uses fantasy, alternate universes, and a what-if, out-of-the-box scenario to reflect real-life emotions, disguise true human feelings, and further examine and explore real characters, relationship issues, and different versions of one's self. Although very different than other films in a mostly-positive way, it can be somewhat confusing, very strange at times, and has several uncomfortable or weird conversations and encounters between the main characters.
'The One I Love' begins with Ethan (Duplass) and Sophie (Moss) talking about their marriage with their therapist, played by Ted Danson. Both characters appear to want their relationship to work, but they are constantly arguing and seem to be on completely different pages in life. After some talk, the therapist suggests that the couple go away for the weekend and stay at a relaxing, romantic place that he recommends. Upon arrival, everything looks beautiful, and after a bottle of wine, a nice dinner, some major connecting, and a couple of laughs, things look as if they are going in the right direction. Unfortunately, it doesn't last long.
Everything is going great until Ethan suddenly acts like he doesn't know what they've been doing for the past few hours. His lack of recollection causes an argument, and the two go their separate ways for time being, but eventually seem to be making up. The next morning, they apologize again, but as they are talking about the night before, they once again have different versions of what had happened following the argument. One of them remembers making up, while the other believes they went to bed without speaking again.
In a peculiar way and without an immediate answer, it seems to the audience as if both characters are somehow in multiple places at once, something odd and currently unexplainable is going on, or that they are simply crazy, sick, or playing a joke on each other.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION CONTAINS SPOILERS
At first, Ethan and Sophie believe their situation to have been caused by alcohol and marijuana, but soon enough, things start to get really weird. After much discussion and some experimenting, they come to the conclusion that in some sort of creepy Twilight Zone-type circumstances, the house appears to bring out alternate versions of each other at various times. Naturally, this idea is difficult for them to comprehend, but ultimately is too hard to pass up further exploration. Once they begin to understand what is happening and how to control it for the time being, they begin to enjoy the rush of spending time with the funnier, smarter, sexier versions of each other that they first fell in love with.
Overall, the film gets a bit repetitive and the pace is pretty slow. There are a variety of awkward, jealous encounters between Ethan and Sophie, and the movie doesn't fully explain the entire bizarre sci-fi narrative. The few actors present do a great job, and for good and bad reasons, most of the content, actions, ideas, and even the ending, are very open for interpretation. There are a good amount of abnormal, thrilling, and climactic events, as well as decent humor. The movie makes good use of aggressive, impactful, mysterious or dramatic music and film score, and relies much on the visual aesthetics.
For anyone who's interested in seeing this film or even for someone just reading this review, the concept used throughout this movie is tough to explain and understand. You really need to see the actual film to fully grasp what is being portrayed. Using a wild, dream-like state and idea that defies our laws of nature and science, 'The One I Love' makes a great deal of real-life comparisons to relationships, compatibility, desire, and more.
This film opens in theaters August 22.
Rated 3 out of 5 stars.
'The One I Love' is rated R for language, some sexuality, and drug use. Running time is 1 hour and 31 minutes.
Hayden Pittman is a special contributor to WFAA.com and a freelance film critic and entertainment blogger out of Dallas. More of his content can be found on YouPlusDallas.com and his author archive here. For more of his reviews on WFAA, click here. He is a film, TV, and sports enthusiast, and when not writing reviews or covering an event, he works in film production. As an average, passionate film lover who rarely misses a film, his reviews are straightforward and his way with words will let you know in a simple way what he thinks. Don't like what he has to say? Let him know at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @HPMoviePitt.