The One I Love, the Charlie McDowell directed film that premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is ultimately an attempt at dissecting marriage. Quickly, however, it becomes obvious that The One I Love has bit off a lot more than it can chew. As it constantly switches genres and throws everything at the wall in terms of letting its actors maneuver, it becomes clear that this film really needed a much more precise and measured take in order to get its points across. Instead everything that this film is trying to reveal becomes lost in a gigantic mess.
The One I Love follows Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) as they seek marriage counseling from a mysterious therapist (Ted Danson). He encourages them to go to a remote resort that has helped out couples that he has previously assisted. However, as soon as Ethan and Sophie get to the resort it becomes clear that something is not right.
The film starts off as a romantic dramedy, which the film could have been quite good at if it just stuck to that. It has two solid actors in Mark Duplass and (especially) Elisabeth Moss, who showcase that they do have some degree of chemistry during the early goings of the film. However, without warning the film suddenly jumps into science fiction territory. The transition is quite jarring, and Charlie McDowell ultimately doesn’t have much of a handle on the more science-fiction stuff. McDowell instead uses the science fiction premise as a showcase for his actors, but that’s all this movie becomes, an acting showcase without any substance to it as its dissection of marriage gets lost in the fold.
As the film goes on the plot gets more lost in itself, and the acting from Duplass and Moss just gets to become tiring. It’s too obvious, and while a lot of what they do is strong work it ultimately means nothing in this film. It, of course, all leads to a cliffhanger in a fashion that we have seen way too many times as of late with sci-fi films.
The One I Love is certainly an exercise in both filmmaking and acting. However, that’s all it feels like: an exercise. This just seems like a film straight from film school that needs a lot more polish in all areas before it seems like a real film. So despite there being a lot of effort on this display, The One I Love comes across as a disappointing and, at times, annoying effort.