Movie Review: The One I Love
I should preface this review by saying that The One I Love is in my movie wheelhouse. I love movies that deal with fundamentally human problems with surreal plot devices. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich are two of my favorite movies. I love using the weird to explain the mundane.
This is precisely what is done with The One I Love. That’s about all I can say about the premise because the central twist, despite happening 10 minutes into the film, is best kept as a secret. I do think it’s a wonderful premise for examining a relationship, but there are a few times where the execution falls short of the great idea.
The biggest flaw is probably that much of the observations about relationships are stereotypical enough that they belong in a 90’s sitcom or 80’s standup routine. He wishes his wife would let him eat more bacon, she wishes he was more articulate about his feelings and worked out more. It almost feels like someone went, “I have this really great idea! Oh shoot, now I need to actually flesh it out. Better get this over quick.”
While not every line of dialogue is brilliant, the actors are very game for them, and both are required to pull off a pretty difficult trick in their roles. I buy their chemistry (and lack of chemistry) as a couple even as I don’t always buy the words coming out of their mouth.
Those drawbacks aside, I still really enjoyed The One I Love. It’s a fun, unusual, and mostly unpredictable film (that is, except for the twist ending, which is fairly obvious). If you like movies off the beaten path with unique premises, it’s absolutely worth checking out.
Rating: 4 out of 5
How does it compare to unusual movies about relationships?
Better than: Happy Accidents
Worse than: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Movies like this confuse me. In a good way. The movie follows Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) as they try to rebuild their marriage by going on a romantic weekend getaway in a beautiful house that’s all to themselves. Things quickly get weird with a twist that critics are trying to hide in their reviews, and although I’m not exactly sold on why it needs to be a surprise, I’ll keep it hidden too. But I will say this: it’s pretty odd, it’s completely unique, and once you get past the initial realization of what’s going on, the movie could use a few more twists and turns.
Although the drama wasn’t quite as high and the situation wasn’t as flushed out as they could have been, The One I Love does a good job of showcasing tensions and relationship woes. It does not, however, has good enough characters to carry a film like this. The characters are standard and the writers didn’t bother to make them unique—the guy likes bacon and the girl won’t let him eat it. Sound familiar? (Okay, yeah, Bob and I had bacon for dinner tonight, and maybe last night too. Bacon is great. But still.) For a movie that is more character-driven than plot-driven, it needs stronger, more idiosyncratic characters and a more compelling dynamic between them.
It's still worth a watch; it’s only when you start to really think about it that you realize these flaws, and the movie itself is still pretty solid. The idea is extremely interesting and the movie does a nice job of keeping you guessing.
Stars: 3.5 out of 5
See This Movie Because: You want to watch an entertaining movie that's not Seth-Rogen-stupid.
Don't See This Movie If: You want to be able to fall asleep in the middle and know what's going on when you wake up at the end. Not that I ever do that.