By Mónica González
(@TheLiteraryMomo on Twitter)
The One I love, an amusing, yet dramatic and mystical film featuring Elizabeth Moss and Mark Duplass, follows the story of Ethan and Sophie, a couple struggling in their marriage and looking for a way to fix things between them. Today, for the last article of the McDowell Mondays event, I present to you my review of the film that was Charlie McDowell’s Directorial debut during 2014’s Sundance Film Festival.
Ethan and Sophie are frequently attending couples therapy but it doesn’t seem to be helping. Their last chance to save their marriage is to go to this vacation house for a weekend as a part of a special therapy. After their first night, strange things start to happen between them. They each share experiences with each other that only one remembers, which leads them to realize that the mysterious vacation house has a pair of doppelgängers that only seem to show up and interact with one another when their partners aren’t nearby. Upon realizing what’s going on, they choose to take advantage of the situation and interact further with these, rather interesting, versions of themselves, under a set of ground rules.
During this time, honoring the saying that states “rules are meant to be broken,” Sophie begins to go over these rules and puts the couple at risk of never leaving the vacation house and damaging their relationship beyond repair. It will take some effort from Ethan, with the help of Sophie’s double, to make Sophie realize what’s truly going on and finally be able to get out and resume their lives.
This was a very unique film to watch; at first I thought it would be one of those doomed-relationship-until-cliché-reconciliation-drama, but then all of the strange things started to happen. From a cinematic perspective, the production value is evident, a great cast, some beautiful locations, a fantastic editor and quite the Director of Photography. I’m guessing that the fact that McDowell was one of those people who grew up around sets while his parents were working must’ve helped him pick up on what it means to choose a good team to work with and their dedication paid off.
As a Film & TV production student, I put a lot of value in creativity and extra effort, I’m a sucker when it comes to obscure and indie productions. But, as a critic, I have to be honest and say that some people might not be able to catch early on what goes on in the story, some might even find it difficult to understand, which can lead to a loss of interest from some viewers. So, generally speaking, I really enjoyed the film, but maybe some people won’t get it. After experiencing some of McDowell’s work in both film and print, I’m really hoping that his next film happens to be a full on comedy because I have a strong feeling he’ll excel and become unstoppable on that genre just as he did in his novel.
Have you seen The One I Love? Do you agree with my review? Anything I might’ve left out? Let me know in the comments section below and Happy McDowell Mondays everyone!