If cinema reflects life back at us, there’s been a bit of a smudge on the lens as far as IVF is concerned. Millions of people have gone through it, yet the movie cupboard is oddly bare. Maybe that’s changing, with last year’s ace Netflix movie ‘Private Life’ and now this empathetic and beautifully acted Glasgow-set drama. ‘Only You’ is part old-school romance, part fertility horror film, and it should resonate deeply with anyone who’s been touched by the struggle to conceive.
Written and directed by first-timer Harry Wootliff, it reveals its hand slowly. A New Year’s Eve taxi encounter between Spanish arts council worker Elena (Laia Costa from ‘Victoria’) and PhD student Jake (Josh O’Connor) spills into a one-night stand fuelled by booze and Elvis Costello LPs. To their mutual surprise, the pair soon find themselves dating, then living together, then trying for a family. Then it starts to go wrong.
Costa and O’Connor are terrific. Elena’s frustrations with the callower Jake and her punishing sense of failure boil over; Jake withdraws, sullen. There’s a nine-year age gap – refreshingly, Elena is the older of the two – and it becomes an issue as the heartache builds. Appointments with fertility specialists (real-life medical professionals add authenticity here) only bring crushing let-downs. Wootliff is attentive to the psychological toll and sympathetically shows how a relationship can become a truly lonely place. You won’t see a more compassionate debut this year.