A married couple goes on a romantic getaway to rekindle the dying flame in their relationship. Think you know where The One I Love is headed with this Hope Springs–y premise? Debuting writer Justin Lader’s attractively twisty script, with first-time feature director Charlie McDowell’s competent orchestration of the film’s limited resources, bursts with mischief and playful menace.
As Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss) wander around their tranquil Ojai, California, rental (which comes with a guesthouse—an integral part of the story), they quickly discover some “Twilight Zone shit” surrounding them and decide to embrace the weirdness. Spelling it out would be betray the film; just know that the story, while acknowledging the wonders of loving someone for who they are, actually grapples with the question: What if you could have a significantly improved version of that person?
For a high-concept effort like this one, the literalization of the endgame is a bit of a cop-out. And the darkly humorous, metaphysical plot is so tension-filled, it doesn’t need the redundant accompaniment of a musical score conveying exactly what’s onscreen. Still, the film delivers on its most crucial idea by being an inventive relationship dramedy with actors who handle the dual challenge thrown at them with distinguished poise.
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