Every now and then a film comes along and puts on display a story so absorbing and unique that upon the house lights going up viewers in the audience feel compelled to tell everyone they know to watch it, and stat. The One I Love is one such film. The first feature for both director Charlie McDowell and writer Justin Lader, The One I Love is nonetheless a confident and gutsy effort that hinges on a pair of captivating performances from Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass.
Moss and Duplass star as Sophie and Ethan, a couple in a sinking marriage. As a last ditch effort to salvage their relationship and rediscover their better selves, Sophie and Ethan head to an idyllic house for a weekend escape. However, shortly after arriving they discover a unique predicament that changes the course of their weekend away. What’s more, the surprise that awaits them could prove to have a lingering effect on their lives. To say more would be to ruin the fun, and there’s plenty of it to be had. Thankfully, the trailer too keeps a lid on things, thus preserving the joy of the viewing experience for us all.
Without getting into the aforementioned fun-ruining details, suffice it to say that Duplass and Moss deliver the kind of complex turns that keep eyes glued to the screen. Duplass gets a chance to stretch dramatic chops, which may come as a surprise to those most used to seeing him as a funnyman. Even Mad Men devotees who are used to seeing Moss bring the house down week after week will be pleasantly surprised to find a film role that gives her quite as much to contend with as Mr. Weiner does, and some wholly new challenges besides.
Most of us aren’t the habit of seeing movies without having at least some sense of what we’re getting into, and generally, that’s a good thing. In The One I Love, we have the exception to that rule. If you’re of open mind and enjoy highly original and thought-provoking work, see it without knowing the how or why. The One I Love is the most unique piece of cinema to grace screens in 2014. It’s imperfect, occasionally over explaining itself, but in the end that scarcely matters, for the whole is smart, satisfying, and yes, fun.