THE ONE I LOVE
Directed by Charlie McDowell
Starring Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss, Ted Danson
Romantic comedies rarely take the types of chances Charlie McDowell's The One I Love takes, which is in the film's favor. The Sundance hit is of a different breed, but still fits nicely into the relationship dramedy tropes of the great films that have come before it.
Ethan and Sophie have hit a wall in their marriage. They're equally unhappy, but comfortable. They are each annoying to each other. They do not seem to work together. Everything is on either side of the spectrum. After a visit with a therapist, the two venture for a weekend away at beautiful house. There's a pool, which brings back memories of their early days sneaking into a stranger's backyard pool for a late night swim. The first night proves to be a failure. Or, at least it does at first. When Ethan decides to spend the evening in the pool house after the two get into an argument, Sophie tiptoes in for a evening rendezvous. The next morning, when Ethan brings it up, Sophie has no idea what he's talking about. What seems like a dutiful attempt at day-after-drinking forgetfulness is in reality a clever plot twist that takes everything to a new, somewhat terrifying, level.
Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss star as the troubled couple. Duplass's classic deadpan is a perfect match for Moss's confident innocence. The two meld well with each other as they go back and forth from Stepford-like frenetic energy to mundane madness. A strong script by Justin Lader helps the film reach a more realistic approach. This is a couple we all know, and maybe have even been at some point. Duplass and Moss are both fun to watch in their won right and together they make a great team.
McDowell is a relative newcomer but shows off his knack for the sublime. The dull, muted images we see on screen feel straight out of a magazine. It's an almost American Beauty-like simpleness, which again brings the story into a sort of honest realm. The fact that the characters realize just how bizarre and weird the occurring events are and even seem to comment on them in a sort of "this will make a great story" is a subtle touch that sets this film apart. What could easily be an almost sci-fi thriller is in reality a story about two real people trying to figure out this thing called life and the strange things that make it up. It's the much-needed update to the romantic comedy genre.
The film offers a great commentary on what relationship can mean and how, even when it's in the pits, experiencing life together is what it's all about. Check this movie out so you can say you were a part of something big when McDowell becomes the next big thing.
Runtime: 91 minutes