The Duplass Brothers (the production company behind the film) have a bit of a following within my school. They did some films you may recognize – Skeleton Twins (2014) starring Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, for instance. From the two movies I’ve seen, their style seems revolve around limited settings, but with well-written characters and high-end actors to match them.
In The One I Love, a strained couple, Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss), drive up to a secluded cottage for a romantic getaway and stumble into a really, really unexpected . . . predicament. And that’s my time, for everyone who hasn’t seen the movie. I can’t say much without giving away the big twist (even if it does happen thirty minutes into the film). What I can say is that I rarely come across movies with such a weird and smart premise. For anyone who enjoys romantic movies gone wrong, this is one to add to your list. That’s my pitch.
If you really don’t care about spoilers, I can’t stop you from reading on. But the surprise is half the fun, you jerks.
So Ethan and Sophie go to this remote cottage that’s supposedly going to save their marriage. It’s beautiful, with a blooming garden and guest house – which is weird seeing as Ethan and Sophie are the only ones on the premises. Thirty minutes in, something isn’t quite right. The score is hitting some subtle horror-movie-esque tones. And a weird argument between Ethan and Sophie leaves me with a sneaking suspicion that something big is about to be revealed.
The next morning Ethan wakes up in the guest house, to an unusually tender, doting Sophie. He doesn’t know yet, but he’ll find out in just a second, that he just woke up in a sci-fi pilot. This kind woman making breakfast is not the real Sophie, but an almost identical version of her.
Here’s what happens. Ethan and Sophie discover that, if one person enters the guest house alone, they will be met by – not their partner – but a perfect version of that partner.
When Ethan wakes up in the guest house, his Sophie doppelganger is sweet, non-argumentative, and cooks bacon (that’s a real game changer, apparently). When Sophie enters the guest house, her new Ethan is witty and effortlessly cool. But still, it’s pretty darn weird.
Predictably, Ethan and Sophie freak out. Their first instinct is to get the hell out of there. Then Sophie says, “Well . . .”
And Ethan says, “Have you lost your marbles?”
To her credit, Sophie brings up a fair argument. She didn’t really feel like she was in danger around Ethan’s doppelganger. And this was the whole point of their weekend, right? Try new things? Nothing else has worked for their relationship, why not this?
Listen, don’t try to explain the science. Don’t try to figure out how it all works because you’re going to miss the point of the movie. Imagine what would happen if you and your long term partner were presented with perfect versions of each other. Who would you choose? Maybe you’re lying about what you’d answer.
What I love most, is that the film brings up this really interesting question, and creates a fascinating dynamic between two (but really four) incredibly complicated characters. And the minute but important differences that separate Sophie and Ethan from their doubles are great testaments to the writing and acting in the film.