Review: The One I Love


It's so hard to not know what a film is about these days. Trailers, social media, even overhearing a conversation can ruin a film in an instant for a person. But one thing that caught my attention about The One I Love is that I not only had no clue what it was about -- no one else seemed to know either. It's hard for me to figure out how to review this film without giving too much away, because I feel that that is what makes it so unique. The element of surprise is one that can so easily be ruined, so I'll try my best to watch my details.

Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) have been married for several years. The film opens with a lovely anecdote by Duplass about how the two met, and how they fell in love instantly. But, like most couples, they've hit a wall in their relationship. They need something to "renew" their spark. Per the suggestion of a marriage counselor (Ted Danson), they seek out a long weekend retreat in the mountains of California. Just the two of them... or so they believe.

Director Charlie McDowell (who, fun fact, is the son of actor Malcolm McDowell) proceeds to take us on an 84-minute journey of head-scratching, surprise, and the constant muttering of "What the...?!" This story is unlike one I've seen in a while, which I think is largely in part due to the great writing by screenwriter Justin Lader. Coupled with a powerful score and some clever hidden special effects, this film ended with me laughing out of shock from all of the plot twists thrown my way.

A big treat that the audience and myself received after the film's screening was a surprise Q&A with both McDowell and Duplass. Although many questions included wanting specific breakdowns of plot points (which I do not condone!), the two had some really great things to say about the making of the film.

One question that caught my attention revolved around the premise of the film. McDowell said that they had a huge "bible" (outline) of the script that lives on their computers, breaking down all of the backstory of the film. He told us that in the first cut of the film, he tried to make it as ambiguous as possible. This did not go over well with his audience, aka his friends and family. When he put everything back in that they needed to know, however, they hated it and wanted that feeling of uncertainty back. I think that, in a nutshell, is all you should know about the story: The uncertainty is what keeps it moving forward.

To get an idea of the film's premise, you can check out the trailer below. However, I highly recommend going in with a total lack of knowledge. I think you'll be more pleased that way.