The One I Love (2014)
written by Justin Lader
directed by Charlie McDowell
There is nothing more disappointing than watching a film that’s hitting all the right notes and then suddenly see it get lost in the resolution. As a budding scriptwriter, I know it’s not easy to come up with a satisfying ending to your story, tying up all of those threads while making the ideas resonate. But damn if finding the right climax is not the main enemy of every writer.
For a while, The One I Love captivates with a fun and intriguing Twilight Zone-ish premise: Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elizabeth Moss) are a married couple who have lost their spark. Upon the recommendation of a therapist, they decide to spend a weekend at a secluded estate in the hopes of connecting again. But on the first night they discover there are two alternate versions of themselves who seem to reside in a cottage close to the main home. Tentatively, they start to interact with the doubles, until Sophie finds herself drawn to Ethan’s cooler, more sensitive doppelgänger. At the prospect of losing Sophie, Ethan #1 must try to stop her from falling in love with the better version of himself.
Just as Gone Girl (2014) upended notions of marriage and love in unexpected ways, so does The One I Love comment on the nature of relationships and what we expect (or not) from them. Moss is perfectly cast as Sophie, strong and independent yet hurting under the surface. And Duplass nails the dual roles of Ethan – one distant and meek, the other confident and mysterious – without going into clichéd stereotypes. But the script by Justin Lader is not content with leaving things to the imagination, opting for a final act that attempts to explain the existence of Ethan and Sophie’s clones. The result negates the ambiguity with which it started. Too bad. In all things regarding the complex nature of love, what you don’t say if often more meaningful than what you do.
Carlos I. Cuevas