Tuesday, September 16, 2014

THE ONE I LOVE (2014)

Written by Justin Lader



Directed by Charlie McDowell



Where & When: Sundance Sunset Cinemas, West Hollywood, CA. September 2, 2014 2:30PM



"The One I Love" seems like it's going to travel down the predictable marriage-in-crisis-and-what-can-we-do-to-save-it path but this delightful indie comedy veers way off in an unexpected direction. In fact, this film took me completely by surprise with it's clever twist early in the plot (which doesn't happen too often). The imaginative script by Justin Lader expertly blurs fantasy and reality as it humorously examines the everyday reality of their significant other and the person they wish they could actually be. This is the first feature by Charlie McDowell and he delivers the goods that makes "The One I Love" feel original and great fun to watch.

Filmmaker/actor, Mark Duplass ("Jeff, Who Lives At Home") and Elizabeth Moss (TVs "Mad Men") play Ethan and Sophie, a couple whose relationship is in trouble. Their marriage is strained due to no longer properly communicating and further damaged by infidelity. Seeking help from a counselor (Ted Danson), he puts the two through several exercises to try and repair their marriage but without much success. The counselor finally recommends they go away together to a private house out of town to focus on each other and reconnect.

Here's where things get tricky. For as much as I want to reveal the details to what happens once they reach the retreat, I also don't want to spoil the surprise. Let's just say that once Ethan and Sophie explore the guest house in the back, they each experience the ideal partner which also happens to be their current partner. I realize this may be a little too vague but trust me, you will enjoy the film much better not knowing all the specifics.

As we reach the third act, the story drifts too far in to campy science-fiction with the film losing focus and some of it's whimsical charm dampened. The ending is sly but you see it coming. None of this causes any serious damage as the film remains utterly engaging and pleasantly strange.

Moss and Duplass are the whole movie and thankfully have a nice chemistry. They convincingly portray a loving couple who have lost their way and really want to find their way back but a highly unusual obstacle prevents them from easily working things out. Duplass usually only gets the chance to make a big star turn in one of the films he creates which is too bad as he makes a fine leading man. Moss has an opportunity to display her more sunny and softer side than on her television show.

"The One I Love" takes a playful and offbeat approach to exploring the age-old dilemma regarding love, marriage and trust. While it may not be entirely successful, the film is still an admirable and enjoyable attempt at shaking up the age-old romantic-comedy conventions.