The One I Love
Directed by Charlie McDowell
On the brink of separation, Ethan and Sophie escape to a beautiful vacation house for a weekend getaway in an attempt to save their marriage. What begins as a romantic and fun retreat soon becomes surreal, when an unexpected discovery forces the two to examine themselves, their relationship, and their future.
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★★★½ review by Filmspotting on Letterboxd
Final shot. Credits.
So... what would it take to make the best version of me?
If your partner doesn't turn to you, or you to them, and pose some version of this (potentially flammable) question immediately after the movie ends, then it has failed you — or you've failed it. I was definitely in the right frame of mind, though, having just re-watched Charlie Kaufman's dream-logic masterpiece SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK. More significantly — and this will only truly resonate with those of you who have seen the movie — a few hours prior I had walked into my house to the intoxicating smell of bacon emanating from the kitchen. I can't even remember the last time my wife cooked bacon.
What I'm saying is: cosmic craziness happens. Also, clearly there is no better version of her. She's already the best.
P.S. Remember that one time I said Mark Duplass gave the best male lead performance of the year? I wasn't insane. Dude is the real deal.
★★★★ review by SilentDawn on Letterboxd
I can't wait to do a double feature with this and Gone Girl and never get married. Ever.
All joking aside, this utterly floored me. What started out as a very 'indie' drama that felt fabricated and too honest for its own good flourished into a film of startling beauty and individualism. The two main performances by Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss are shockingly great, and without their dedication, this small film would've crumbled down to the ground. I also loved how the film moved through its story with assurance and focus. Never did the film feel like it didn't know how to end; rather, The One I Love gets weirder and more engrossing as it goes along.
This is like if you received a Christmas present in July. It's out of place, but as soon as you open it up, It's arguably more delightful than opening it along with others on Christmas day. I don't know if that makes any sense, but this film surprised the hell out of me.
★★★★ review by Eli Hayes on Letterboxd
This is one of those movies that you just kind of have to accept. If you question its premise or development too much, you'll end up overanalyzing a film that isn't demanding much analysis. That's not what its about... it's a relationship drama(/dark comedy), albeit an extremely odd one. In fact, at times it almost got weird enough to vaguely remind me of Dogtooth, though I have a feeling that had more to do with the location than anything. Nonetheless, for a film advertised as being a dark comedy (and it is one, I won't deny that), I found it to be a rather painful and introspective cinematic encounter. I found myself thoroughly torn by (not between) these two unlikeable yet sometimes-oddly-likable characters, in the sense that I hated Elizabeth Moss' character(s?) more than almost any other character(s??) I've seen in a film all year, maybe even in years. But at the same time, I could partially understand her motivations given the audience's knowledge of Mark Duplass' character(s???) past actions. Overall, I really enjoyed this movie; it was fascinating, compelling, sharp and witty, but it was also a tough one for me to endure. Maybe I'll have to chalk that up to personal experience - nevertheless, in my opinion, if a film can frustrate you to the point of making you want to shut it off, it's doing its job. A very fine directorial debut.
★★★½ review by Esteban Gonzalez on Letterboxd
"You can't buy a gorilla."
I avoided all commentaries and trailers of this film because I had heard the less you know about it, the better. The high rating that critics were giving The One I Love was what attracted me to it, and I took their advice of trying to stay away from any further comments. That is perhaps one of the reasons why I was able to enjoy the twist in this romantic tale of a struggling couple who are trying to save their marriage. My review will be spoiler free because I want everyone to experience it kind of like in the same way I did. The premise might seem like a simple one, but the truth of the matter is that it is inventive. This is the feature directorial debut from Charlie McDowell who delivers a solid film, and it is also the first screenplay written by Justin Lader which explores marriage in a rather inventive and engaging way.
I felt like The One I Love explored these issues of marriage in a similar way to what Gone Girl did (although without the thrills) in that we sometimes tend to idealize our partner in a relationship. Perhaps it has to do with how love and marriage is sold in our society as something we receive rather than on something we give. Love isn’t just about what my partner could do for me, and that leads us to idealize what we want that other person to be like instead of accepting him or her for who he or she is. We expect each other to fulfill a certain role in marriage and sometimes that leads to a false idealization. The exploration of love and marriage in this film makes us think about these issues by introducing an inventive concept which may work for some, but turn others off. It worked for me better conceptually than how it was executed. I did find some problems with the narrative in the way some things were explained, but I can’t get into those issues because I’d have to spoil the film in order to do so. But there is one particular scene that takes place in a room involving a computer that sort of felt misplaced. However as a relationship drama the film does succeed by making you think of certain issues and it will have you discussing several scenes with your spouse or friends after the movie is over. It was a very satisfying experience for me and I did enjoy the ending.
The performances in this film are great. It centers almost entirely on the performances from Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass. Ted Danson has a small role in the beginning of the film, but from then on the chemistry between the two lead roles is the basis of the movie. Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass give impressive performances here which feel authentic. They feel like a real married couple and the tension between them during this moment of crisis is authentic without being melodramatic. The setup is believable which is a must for a film that is exploring love and marriage. It is an artful and funny film. Duplass is known for starring in these unique films, but I enjoyed this a little less than I did Safety Not Guaranteed and Your Sister’s Sister. It’s still a very refreshing film which does tackle the issues of intimacy and marriage pretty well.
★★★★½ review by Austin Gorski on Letterboxd
Wow. That was...uh...different.
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