The opening scene of “The One I Love” (2014) shows couple Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elizabeth Moss) in a joint therapy session. Their marriage is on the rocks because Ethan had cheated and the two are struggling. Their therapist recommends that they go on a weekend getaway.
“The perfect retreat. Just the two of you,” he says, adding that it will give them “a chance to reset the reset button.”
The couple drives out to a country estate. Initially, the getaway seems to do them good. They cook, get high, and appear to have a good time. They seem to have rediscovered the playfulness and excitement in their relationship. The twist: there is something weird and sci-fi going on at the seemingly idyllic estate.
Given that the trailer for “The One I Love” carefully conceals the film’s plot and gives very little away (brilliantly put together ), I will also refrain from saying too much, except to say that I highly recommend the film.
I know so far I haven’t told you very much about the film and I apologize for the secrecy. But it is absolutely necessary. You see, the hypercharged psychological thriller is a very lean production that involves primarily (a) shooting at a single location and (b) two actors. With not a lot going on, nonetheless, a lot happened. And yes, if I were to reveal anything beyond “Ethan and Sophie are taking a weekend getaway at a house suggested by their therapist to fix their marriage,” I would have spoiled the plot. But the state of not-knowing is precisely what makes the movie so great, and I urge you to embrace that.
Accept the fact that the movie has finite storytelling minutes (1 hour and 41 minutes), welcome the premise that you don’t know everything about Ethan’s adultery, and believe that there is a reality and alternate reality even though you are not exactly sure how that is possible—the total subjugation to the construct of the movie will allow you to immerse deeper and appreciate more of “The One I Love.”
Here’s what I can safely say about “The One I Love.” There is no magic bullet when it comes to fixing a marriage after cheating. And from the very beginning, Ethan and Sophie are obviously not on the same page.
When Ethan disappointedly tells their therapist that his plan to rekindle their relationship by recreating the night they fall in love has failed, here is the conversation that follows:
Sophie: “I want to trust you. I want to forgive you. I want—I want all of those things. I want us—I want us to work.”
Ethan: “I don’t know why you think I don’t want that.”
Sophie: “Because we don’t agree on how we’re going to get there.”
I think we can all relate to that. Because what Ethan and Sophie have is a situation where one party, the Wrongdoer, is saying that “Hey, I am sorry about what I did, but let’s just move on and move past it,” and the other party, the Wronged, is saying “I don’t know why but I am still butt hurt and angry about what happened, and I just can’t move past it.” When a relationship is broken, whether that’s a marriage or something else, it takes time to mend. The fact is that you have to work through the toughs and the uglies. An immediate, perfect fix simply does not exist, and if such a “fix” is proffered, you should probably think twice before agreeing to it.
After all, this is the therapist’s promise: Ethan and Sophie will come back “renewed,” not “feeling renewed.”