The One I Love (R) ★★★★

Mark Duplass and Elizabeth Moss star in "The One I Love." Photo  Credit: Radius TWC
Mark Duplass and Elizabeth Moss star in “The One I Love.” Photo Credit: Radius TWC

Mark Duplass & Elizabeth Moss Steal The Screen, Literally

Thirysomethings, Ethan (Mark Duplass, Parkland 2013) and Sophie (Elizabeth Moss, Mad Men 2007-2015) have tried nearly everything to save their marriage. Now, their therapist (Ted Danson, CSI: NY, 2013) who is sensing they are at a breaking point suggests they do something dramatic. He sends the couple away for the weekend to a secluded home in the breathtaking California countryside. His goal is to provide the perfect setting for them to dig deep into their relationship and rekindle the flame.

When they get to the estate, they are the only people around for miles. The beautiful Ojai estate has two houses on it and is surrounded by the mountains. It’s the most idyllic setting. In fact, it might be too idyllic as an unexpected twist compels the couple to take a step back and reexamine everything.

The One I Love is a uniquely designed take on the modern love story. It’s incredibly unassuming and thought provoking. It takes on an interesting perspective when you consider what we expect from relationships, what we expect from ourselves and how that evolves over time. Duplass and Moss are spectacular in their roles, especially since they are the only characters beyond Danson’s five-minute cameo. They showcase a range of personalities and emotions. Credit is due to acclaimed author Charlie McDowell, who in his directorial debut, makes wonderful use of a small cast and simple staging in this clever crowd-pleaser. It’s likely that the comedy-drama will generate some post-theater discussion, especially among couples.

The film begins as a somewhat conventional love story. After unpacking their bags, the couple has a great conversation over a delicious homemade dinner while they drink wine and smoke pot. One would never guess they are even having marital issues. In fact, in the next scene, we find Sophie and Ethan in the guesthouse making love. The film then cuts quickly to Sophie returning to the main house where she finds Ethan asleep on the couch. How did he get here so quickly? He is confused by the question, as he has no recollection of what just happened between them. This is only the beginning of several twists and turns, while Ethan and Sophie are continually confronted with unforeseen temptations that force each of them to question where they go from here.  It will even raise questions for the audience to think about, mainly: If you have ever been in a relationship that may have lost its spark what would happen if you could go back to dating the person you first met instead of the person you are with now, someone you know better but is probably less exciting?

The film is more of a drama than a comedy, but it has comedic moments especially from Duplass who can be both charming and sarcastic. The story is captivating through the final frame and even after, as the credits roll to the fitting Mamas and the Papas song, “Dedicated to the One I Love.”

Bottom-Line? The One I Love is simple yet complicated. It’s an incredibly new, refreshing take on a love story. The thought provoking comedy-drama is entertaining throughout. Duplass and Moss are spectacular.

Cast: Mark Duplass (Ethan), Elizabeth Moss (Sophie), Ted Danson

Credits: Directed by Charlie McDowell; Written by Justin Lader

Studio: TWC – Radius

Run Time: 91 minutes

Jessica Aymond © August 25, 2014