The One I Love

The One I Love

2014, R, 91 min. Directed by Charlie McDowell. Starring Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss, Ted Danson.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Sept. 5, 2014

At some point before the start of the film, Ethan (Duplass) and Sophie (Moss) were a happily married couple. Now, however, they are in a therapist’s office trying to regain their mojo. Happiness for them has become a hard thing to rediscover, and the therapist (Danson, who is also the stepfather of director McDowell) offers nothing but the usual bromides. Making no discernible progress, the therapist shuffles through a pile of papers on a corner shelf and pulls out a brochure for a nearby vacation spot. He tells Ethan and Sophie that he has sent numerous clients there and they have all come back … “renewed.” He takes a long pause before that last word, “renewed,” but we really think nothing of it and chalk it up to L.A. psychobabble.

Off they go, and the bucolic Ojai setting instantly lifts the couple’s spirits; a joint upon arrival further lightens their mood. There might be hope for them after all – but then they start exploring the separate guest cottage on the premises. To say much more here would strip the film of its mystery. Suffice it to say, that The One I Love is a rom-com-dram – with a twist.

Duplass and Moss are both intriguing performers, who get to do much more here than in their recent TV work (The Mindy Project and Mad Men, respectively), and who are said to have improvised much of this film’s dialogue. Their relationship rings true, and they are quite enjoyable to watch. Unfortunately, someone (screenwriter Justin Lader, perhaps?) needed to improvise some kind of satisfying denouement because the film’s third act just collapses in on itself. The One I Love is imaginative and provocative until … until it isn’t.

See “Two Guys, a Girl, and a Puzzle Piece,” Aug. 29, for an interview with Mark Duplass and Charlie McDowell.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More The One I Love
DVDanger: How to Date in a Sci-Fi Universe
DVDanger: How to Date in a Sci-Fi Universe
Premature and The One I Love probe romance

Richard Whittaker, Nov. 8, 2014

More The One I Love
Two Guys, a Girl, and a Puzzle Piece
Two Guys, a Girl, and a Puzzle Piece
UT grad Mark Duplass and director Charlie McDowell discuss their elusive take on the indie rom-com

William Goss, Aug. 29, 2014

More Mark Duplass Films
Tully
Modern motherhood unraveled and rebuilt by the Young Adult team.

Richard Whittaker, May 4, 2018

The Lazarus Effect
Medical students try to bring the dead back to life.

William Goss, March 6, 2015

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
SXSW Film Review: <i>Sister Aimee</i>
Film Review: Sister Aimee
The true-ish story of the original celebrity hoax

March 15, 2019

Birds of Passage
Colombian drama redefines the drug trafficking movie

March 15, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

The One I Love, Charlie McDowell, Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss, Ted Danson

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle