Thursday, April 10, 2014

DIFF 2014 Review: THE ONE I LOVE - Javi's Take

Directed by: Charlie McDowell
Written by: Justin Lader
Starring: Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss, and Ted Danson
Synopsis: A couple tries to salvage their marriage with a weekend in the country.

Marriage (from what I hear) is a tough thing to make work. It requires lots of compromises, attention, and maintenance once the bliss of the honeymoon period goes away. What if, despite loving your spouse, you could get their "perfect" version, like the version of that person that likes bacon or is able to open about their feelings? Is that even something that you would want? Those are the issues that THE ONE I LOVE tries to explore through a fantastical premise, with some great comedy and emotion.

Part Twilight Zone/Nightvale episode, part romantic comedy, and drama centers around Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss as Ethan and Sophie trying to repair their marriage. Their therapist seems to think that they're not a lost cause, so he sends them to a beautifully lavish estate in what appears to be the wine country. At first, it looks like any other rich white people trying to solve their problems in a retreat type of situation, but one evening after discovering that their guest house is not quite what it seems, well, that's about all that can be said about this movie plot-wise without getting into spoilers. What should be noted is that to truly let yourself get into the movie, there has to be a certain level of suspension of disbelief.

The movie works because of the leads. There are only three actors in this entire movie, so the burden rests on them, and they succeed very well. Duplass and Moss play their characters with a ton of history between them with both being very set in their ways despite needing to change for the sake of their marriage. As the movie progresses, they both ever so subtly change their mannerisms in a way that almost makes them seem like they're completely different people.

Thematically, the movie asks a lot of questions about what relationships are and aren't and whether you can have everything that you want or if you need to take a flawed person as they are. And more importantly, if there's a "perfect" version of your partner out there, are they even really the same person you fell in love with? Pretty deep issues and the movie tries to tackle them head on by leaning on comedy more than drama. What would be a great point of discussion is whether the ending as ambiguous as it is undermines the themes of the movie or of it reinforces them.

THE ONE I LOVE has so many funny moments that it fools you into not realizing just how deep the movie is and what its trying to accomplish. Mark Duplass is charming as ever, and Elisabeth Moss will make you fall in love with her after seeing this movie. Thanks to its premise and performances, this is a movie that will hopefully get more exposure and hopefully won't be relegated to Netflix in a month.

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