"You can't buy a gorilla."
I avoided all commentaries and trailers of this film because I had heard the less you know about it, the better. The high rating that critics were giving The One I Love was what attracted me to it, and I took their advice of trying to stay away from any further comments. That is perhaps one of the reasons why I was able to enjoy the twist in this romantic tale of a struggling couple who are trying to save their marriage. My review will be spoiler free because I want everyone to experience it kind of like in the same way I did. The premise might seem like a simple one, but the truth of the matter is that it is inventive. This is the feature directorial debut from Charlie McDowell who delivers a solid film, and it is also the first screenplay written by Justin Lader which explores marriage in a rather inventive and engaging way.
I felt like The One I Love explored these issues of marriage in a similar way to what Gone Girl did (although without the thrills) in that we sometimes tend to idealize our partner in a relationship. Perhaps it has to do with how love and marriage is sold in our society as something we receive rather than on something we give. Love isn’t just about what my partner could do for me, and that leads us to idealize what we want that other person to be like instead of accepting him or her for who he or she is. We expect each other to fulfill a certain role in marriage and sometimes that leads to a false idealization. The exploration of love and marriage in this film makes us think about these issues by introducing an inventive concept which may work for some, but turn others off. It worked for me better conceptually than how it was executed. I did find some problems with the narrative in the way some things were explained, but I can’t get into those issues because I’d have to spoil the film in order to do so. But there is one particular scene that takes place in a room involving a computer that sort of felt misplaced. However as a relationship drama the film does succeed by making you think of certain issues and it will have you discussing several scenes with your spouse or friends after the movie is over. It was a very satisfying experience for me and I did enjoy the ending.
The performances in this film are great. It centers almost entirely on the performances from Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass. Ted Danson has a small role in the beginning of the film, but from then on the chemistry between the two lead roles is the basis of the movie. Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass give impressive performances here which feel authentic. They feel like a real married couple and the tension between them during this moment of crisis is authentic without being melodramatic. The setup is believable which is a must for a film that is exploring love and marriage. It is an artful and funny film. Duplass is known for starring in these unique films, but I enjoyed this a little less than I did Safety Not Guaranteed and Your Sister’s Sister. It’s still a very refreshing film which does tackle the issues of intimacy and marriage pretty well.