The One I Love puts forth an intriguing notion: Can rational people accept the inexplicable if it will bring them greater happiness? Claudia Puig, USA Today
At the start of The One I Love, now available on DVD, a couple with issues goes to therapy—-and things get really weird.
David Edelstein, Vulture, briefly summarizes:
In the funny-strange sci-fi psychodrama The One I Love, Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss play a foundering couple, Ethan and Sophie, whose attempt to recover the happiness in their marriage takes them—on the advice of a therapist played by Ted Danson—to an isolated country estate where they meet … themselves. Or, rather, each of them meets someone who looks exactly like the other but is warmer and more attentive. Is it a dream? A shared psychosis? A portal to another dimension? (The couple ruminate on all these possibilities themselves.) The more urgent question is: What do you do when your mate is clearly falling for the person you were rather than the person you are?
Matthew Kassel, New York Observer: “He makes them play random notes on an in-office piano—a bogus indication that their marriage is out of sync—and then recommends they get away to a rural retreat to ‘reset the reset button.'”
Andrew O’Hehir, Salon: “Beneath the affable, nonjudgmental persona of Danson’s nameless therapist, you get the dim sense he’s pursuing his own agenda.”
The Therapist-Recommended Retreat
Sheila O’Malley, rogerebert.com: “The ‘retreat’ is a weekend alone in a big old house on a large property, complete with a pool and guest house. There are no other guests. There is no guru leading them through trust exercises. There is no Steve Carell in ‘Hope Springs.’ It is just Ethan and Sophie, hanging out, exploring the grounds.”
The Couple (the only characters besides the briefly portrayed shrink)
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: “We’re presented with a couple that is beyond listening to each other. They no longer seem to believe in the other person’s virtue or specialness. And every positive association they have about each other is related to some past memory, when everything was new and they were both on their best behavior. So should they stay together? And if they do, what can they still expect to find?”
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap: “It’s not just familiarity that has bred contempt between them: Ethan was unfaithful once, and Sophie has yet to forgive him. At the same time, she has habits and walls of her own, so she’s hardly blameless for their current malaise.”
Andrew O’Hehir, Salon: “Both characters are precisely captured: Ethan has the wounded pride of a guy who thinks he has done quite enough apologizing and now suspects he’ll never get anything right; Sophie has the prickly, passive-aggressive demeanor of a woman who’s searching for the guy she fell in love with but isn’t sure he still exists.”
More About the Ensuing Plot
Sheila O’Malley, rogerebert.com:
…(W)hat they open themselves to is a Hall of Mirrors, increasingly disturbing, and the secrets start to pile up again, casually at first, and then consciously and deliberately…The two actors create a very real relationship, with a sense of shared joy in one another’s company, and myriad problems threatening to derail the entire thing. We can see how bored they are with life, with themselves, and with each other. To Ethan, trying something new means ‘going horseback riding with a satchel of wine.’ Ethan and Sophie are not extraordinary characters. But the situation in which they find themselves in is.
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: “It’s probably the only love story you’ll see this decade that will make you half-expect the camera to swerve and pick up the sight of Rod Serling, standing there in a black suit.”
Claudia Puig, USA Today: “The One I Love succeeds on several levels. It’s an astute and often funny look at relationships, and it’s also a cleverly designed high concept that keeps audiences fully engaged. It’s sharply written by Justin Lader and well-directed by Charlie McDowell (son of British actor Malcolm McDowell). The chemistry between Moss and Duplass is spot-on.”
Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times: “’…one of those highly original films whose secrets are best experienced without much hint of what’s to come. So I’ll just say that the film feels like it might be a romantic comedy, but soon becomes something else; that Moss and Duplass have a charming, playful chemistry; that the film takes us to some unexpected places; and that, after watching it twice, I’m still not certain that the concept holds up.”
Sheila O’Malley, rogerebert.com: “Unabashedly entertaining at an efficient 91-minutes, ‘The One I Love’ is an extremely confident first feature, with some really fun things to say about identity and relationship, connection and destiny.”