Movie Review – "The One I Love," Fantasy Retreat Mends Broken Marriage

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On the brink of separation, Ethan and Sophie find hope in couple’s therapy. Their therapist (Ted Danson) suggests “resetting” their marriage at a countryside retreat, which he guarantees, will restore what’s missing. This seems a viable solution, as they can’t remember the last time they had sex and what little happiness they have is found in recalling the past.

The couple played by Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) and Mark Duplass (The League) arrive as this spacious vacation home where they began rekindling their romance. Maybe a break from city life is exactly what they need. The place is well stocked with food, wine and weed. Sophie cooks dinner, add a little music, some weed and great conversation, the retreat is off to a wonderful start. Sophie takes a walk and finds a guesthouse. Venturing inside, she finds Ethan and they make passionate love.

However, when she returns to the house, she finds Ethan sound asleep on the couch. She wonders how he got there so quickly. Questioning him, she finds he has no memory of what happened in the guesthouse. The wounded relationship festers and suspicions resurface.

The next day Ethan tours the grounds and locates the guesthouse. He enters and finds Sophie waiting for him making breakfast. Something is off, as she has cooked bacon, a thing she previously loathed doing. Ethan thinks things are on the mend.

Such strange occurrences continued until the real couple confines in each other about the duplicate couple they are encountering. A couple that is almost a clone. This is where the story picks up as they are trying to outsmart what appears to be themselves. One is able to keep track of these strange situations appearing in almost parallel universes by observing the different wardrobes and slightly different hairstyles for Sophie and Ethan. The personalities are a little different too with the duplicates being more open and forthright.

It’s tough to reveal the rest of the plot details without destroying ones enjoyment of the film. The satisfaction of this film is observing how this couple addresses their marriage problems and the reasons for its deterioration. The performances are highly memorable having solid depth and a lot of humanity. The film glides effortlessly between drama and comedy and the cast shows how adept they are at both. The storytelling is witty, authentic and emotionally based a tribute to the actors improvising much of their dialogue from Justin Lader’s 50-page script. There is some repetitiveness one might find annoying, but for the most part the story pulls one nicely along building to a climatic surprising ending, one that sneaks up on you.

At the Q&A following the screening, Miss Moss confessed to stopping production in one scene due to her confusion about playing the dual role. It was the one scene where they are dressed in identical outfits. She asked, “Tell me, which Sophie am I playing?”

“The One I Love” is a journey into genres incorporating romantic-comedy, drama and sci-fi/fantasy elements, one skillfully guided by Charlie McDowell with surprising directorial confidence. The production credits are admirable and beautifully done, especially in view of its low-budget and short shooting schedule. Reviewed at the Los Angeles Film Festival. The 91-minute film is scheduled to open August 15th, 2014.

CREDITS: Cast: Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss, Ted Danson; Director: Charlie McDowell; Screenwriter: Justin Lader; Producer; Mel Eslyn; Executive Producers: Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass, Charlie McDowell, & Justin Lader; Directory of Photography: Doug Emmett; Production Designer: Theresa Guleserian; Art Director: Erika Toth; Costume Designer: Bree Daniel; Editor: Jennifer Lilly; Sound: Sean O’Malley; Re-recording Mixer; Gene Park; Visual Effects Supervisor: Stefan Scherperel; Music: Danny Densi, Saunder Jurrianns; A Duplass Brothers Production. Distributed by: Radius – TWC; Run Time: 91-minutes.

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