Take a Drink: during each “wtf” moment
Take a Drink: for each twist in the film
Do a Shot: once you find the big twist
By: Matt Conway (Two Beers) –
While many still dont really know much about him, I continue to become a big fan of Mark Duplass and his work. Duplass, who is mostly known for his great comedic role on the television show The League, has shown great range in his young career as a director, writer, and actor. Known along with Joe Swanberg and Lynn Shelton, Duplass is given a lot of credit for starting the mumblecore craze, with his great debut film The Puffy Chair back at Sundance 2005. Since then, Duplass has directed the suprisngly tender Cyrus and Jeff Who Lives at Home, while staring in one of my favorite films of 2012, Safety Not Guaranteed.
Like Lynn Shelton, Duplass seems to be escaping more from the mumblecore genre and doing more acting, including small roles in Zero Dark Thirty and Tammy. Duplass’ latest The One I Love looked to be one of the more interesting projects in a while, with many critics and audiences who raved about the flick having described it as an hybrid between a comedy and mystery with an inventive twist on the romantic comedy genre in general. Thankfully, The One I Love comes together, and is one of the better flicks to come out this year.
The One I Love follows couple Ethan and Sophie, who decide to take a visit to a retreat due to their strained relationship.
The One I Love is a tough movie to review because the many crux of the story is a spoiler that is too good to give away. Written by first-timer Justin Lader, the script here really goes for it in the story direction, giving his audience one of the more audacious stories in recent rom-com history. The originality and pure creativity is an aspect to be admired here for sure, especially since the film is able to follow through with its concept.
Performance-wise, The One I Love features two great performances from its respective leads. As I’ve mentioned Mark Duplass is one of my personal favorites, and thankfully gives one of his best performances yet. A lot of people think that Duplass kind of plays the same kind of laid-back type character in every flick, but here he shines as a husband who aggressively looks for answers. Co-staring alongside him is Elisabeth Moss, who is actually able to one-up Duplass and give the film’s best performance. Moss is able to convey a lot of dramatic weight, and shows a wide range of emotions.
Both Duplass and Moss have a great dynamic together, as they do a great job of portraying a couple whose relationship is in a rocky road. Their connection with each other is apparent, but it’s also obvious that there is some tension underlying there relationship. It’s also great to see that both characters are coming from a completely different, but understandable perspective on their relationship, as both Duplass’s Ethan and Moss’s Sophie felt like real people whose issues felt understandable instead of being an overreaction.
Helping making this film work so well is first time director Charlie McDowell, who shines in his first effort. Having a style very much reminiscent of Spike Jonze, McDowell is able to do so much good with such a micro-budget. There is a great sense of mood built up throughout the film, with the characters’ descent further and further into their visit becoming more and more threatening. McDowell also does a fantastic job of keeping the film moving at a good clip, with its 90 minute running time feeling quite brisk, and a great job balancing the tone, with there being a nice spread between dark comedy and dramatic moments.
Tying the film together is Lader’s script, which is one of the more well-rounded scripts of the year. Lader creates naturalistic dialogue with such ease, as each bickering conversation feels very genuine. Lader should also be credited for going all-out in the story department, with many twists and turns that culminate in an ending that evokes a great deal of emotion and thought. However the journey to that ending does have one issue.
Perhaps the only big flaw with The One I Love is as it heads towards its final act, the inner workings of its story do seem to get convoluted. Considering that the film has a short running time and more of a focus on the characters, this convoluted nature is not a big surprise, but overall left far many moments in the third act that felt confusing. Logic in the final third is thrown out the window, which hurts in comparison to the the very realistic first two thirds of the film.
The One I Love is a movie I cannot speak more highly of, and urge people to go check out. It’s one of the most inventive films of the year so far, featuring a bold story and great characters. It’s now out on On Demand, so take the time and most especially, avoid spoilers.