On the brink of separation, Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) escape to a beautiful vacation house for a weekend getaway in an attempt to save their marriage. What begins as a romantic and fun retreat soon becomes surreal, when an unexpected discovery forces the two to examine themselves, their relationship, and their future.
In all the movie reviews I've ever written for this website, figuring out how to cover 'The One I Love' may be perhaps by biggest challenge. It's not that I can't think of anything to write about…quite the contrary. I have tons of things I want to relay about this film, but so little of it I actually can. You see, 'The One I Love' is one of those movies that hinges on a secret reveal/plotline, and there's almost no way to talk about the movie without giving away that secret. So I'll proceed here as carefully as possible.
The movie begins with our two main characters, Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) in marriage counseling. They are telling their counselor (played by Ted Danson) how stale their marriage has gotten and how even recent attempts at rekindling their relationship haven't added any spark. The counselor hands them a pamphlet to a retreat home where he claims other couples have gone and worked things out. Willing to try anything, Ethan and Sophie agree to give it a go. This, as they say, is where the fun begins.
Without giving away what happens, let's just say that the house that Ethan and Sophie stay in is no ordinary house. Events happen inside that delve into Twilight Zone territory. At first the couple doesn't notice these events, but they gradually start to put the pieces together and figure out what's happening to them. When they discuss it, however, they both realize that what's been happening has also given them back the spark that's been missing in their relationship, so they agree to cautiously continue to explore the events inside the house.
While I can't really tell you what's going on, I can tell you that the movie uses the events to really tear apart and examine the institution of marriage and all its positives and negatives. Can something that's been broken apart really be put back together? Is the person we've fallen in love with really the person we're with or just the idea of that person we've created in our mind over the years? These are fascinating concepts for any movie to tackle, and I admired the way 'The One I Love' uses its rather sci-fi setup to address these deep questions about love and marriage.
Of course, there comes a time in every movie when the magician has to pull back the curtain and reveal the secrets. 'The One That I Love' kind of fudges the reveal, telling the viewer some of what has been going on, but leaving just as much info up to the mind/imagination of the viewer. While this is slightly dissatisfying, it's probably the right move, as no answer the film gives is likely to satisfy every viewer and would also risk having everything that happens before the reveal crumble under close inspection. I'm not sure the answers we do get here work, but so much of the movie does up until the point that curtain starts to pull back, that it would be unfair to dismiss the film for not quite nailing its landing.
'The One I Love' is one of those 'gimmick' movies that probably didn't need the gimmick to examine the issues that it does, but by using it sets it aside from dozens of other films in its genre. It's essentially a film that examines what makes a marriage work, and what makes one fail – but it's also a movie that has some sci-fi fun inside of that premise. It's easily one of the more original movies I've seen this year, and certainly worth checking out.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
'The One I Love' arrives on Blu-ray in a standard Elite keepcase, which houses the single 25GB Blu-ray with no inserts. The Blu-ray is front-loaded with trailers for 'Horns' and Snowpiercer, and the main menu consists of a video montage of footage from the movie, with menu selections running across the bottom of the screen.
This Blu-ray release is Region A locked.
'The One I Love' was shot digitally on RED EPIC equipment, and the transfer here is quite nice, although it's one of the few I can remember that leans toward warm skin tones (a kind of redish/orangish hue throughout) while still featuring a rather darker contrast, although mostly in the indoor scenes – as the outdoor shots have plenty of light. Fortunately, clarity never seems to suffer, even in the darker moments – and black crush is rarely an issue here.
Details throughout are pretty good, and the transfer doesn't suffer from any obvious issues like aliasing or video noise. Skin tones (which, again lean toward the warm side) are fairly consistent throughout and facial features are nicely detailed as well. While this is far from a spectacular looking image, most viewers will have few complaints and there are no major issues of note.
The only audio (other than the commentary, of course) available here is an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that more than serves its purpose. Dialogue is exclusively up front, meaning the only real use of the rear speakers is for the film's rather interesting (and often piano-heavy) soundtrack. Other than the spoken word and the soundtrack music, there's really not much else going on from aural standpoint. Dialogue is crisp, clear, and properly balanced with the music. There were no noticeable issues with the audio mix that I could detect.
In addition to the lossless track, subtitles are available in both English and Spanish.
'The One I Love' uses a Twilight Zone-type twist to examine the institution of marriage. It's a fun idea, although – like many films of this type, where the filmmakers keep the audience guessing – I'm not sure the payoff/conclusion quite works. Still, for using the premise as a way of commenting on a failed relationship, the movie proves to be more than worthwhile. Recommended.