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With: Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss, Ted Danson
Written by: Justin Lader
Directed by: Charlie McDowell
MPAA Rating: R for language, some sexuality and drug use
Running Time: 91
Date: 08/22/2014

The One I Love (2014)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Couples Repeat

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The One I Love is two kinds of movies. One kind is a romantic drama, in which Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) and Ethan (Mark Duplass) are having relationship troubles. Apparently, Ethan cheated on Sophie at some point, and they are seeing a therapist (Ted Danson) to try to mend things again. The therapist suggests a weekend retreat to rest, relax, and regroup.

It's this part of the movie that really succeeds. The characters relate to each other in interesting, adult ways. The movie deftly explores the ways in which men and women read and misread each other and perceive each other. It explores the things that men and women want, or think they want, from one another. It does this in far more intelligent and far subtler ways that most American romance films even consider doing. But this part of the movie will take a backseat to the other part.

The other part is a bit more fantastic, and though I can't really go into detail, it ventures into the non-realistic. Technically, this aspect is very well done, and the performances and visuals are quite accomplished. Screenplay-wise, however, the movie goes both a little too far and not far enough in establishing the rules of its universe.

In other words, it tries to keep things a tantalizing mystery for as long as possible, and then some rules are hastily provided in the heat of the moment, and they don't really make sense. In one scene, Ethan finds a recording studio with some clues inside, but the clues are more baffling than they are enticing; they raise more questions than the movie has time or inclination to answer, and yet it answers other questions. Ultimately, it's not clear what's actually happening or why. A little more mystery, or a little more logic, would have worked wonders.

Frankly, this movie made me think of two other, better movies starring Duplass, Safety Not Guaranteed, which has a bit of the fantastic, and Your Sister's Sister, which is a great romantic character drama. I appreciate what The One I Love had up its sleeve, but I don't think the trick completely works.

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