Because she's Elisabeth Moss, there's always so much going on behind her eyes. - Jon
This one had me locked into it and intrigued from the start. - Riley
I'd rather a movie paint itself into a corner than not paint at all. - Shane
I knew basically nothing about this film going in. Something about a troubled marriage. That's always a great way to watch a movie, and that was the case here. The twist of doppelgangers as a way into exploring a failing relationship is solid. I like how it explores different masks and personas partners try on. The fake-Ethan and fake-Sophie are portrayed as real-Sophie's and real-Ethan's ideal version of their spouses. She cooks him his favorite foods and has basically no needs of her own, and he knows what she wants before she has to say anything. What that has to say about real-Sophie and real-Ethan isn't flattering, but it feels real. They were probably both very much like their fake versions at one point, but drifted away from it as their relationship progressed. I'm interested in what our married members have to say about this movie.
I was reminded a lot of Gone Girl with The One I Love. Gone Girl's about a lot, but if you drill all the way down to its dark center, I'd say it's about the many different versions of one person. In the central relationship, the best version is the one you use to find a mate, but after finding that mate, the best version slowly changes into something that requires less effort. That film's version of marriage assumes that partners fall in love with the best version of a person, and are lukewarm, if not disgusted, with the low-effort one. The One I Love isn't as cynical, but it's playing in the same ballpark. There's the partner in your head, and there's the partner in front of you. If those two images can't be reconciled, the relationship is headed for trouble and/or murderous rage.
This is the first film credit for the writer and the director. Both are mostly strong in their debuts. This is a good basic idea, and I like how what's happening isn't overly explained. I love how every conversation has so much subtext. The Sopranos and Deadwood were always great at this, such that so many lines are about the opposite of what the character is saying. However, the script could have dug a little deeper into the fake-versions, as their traits brush up against stereotypes. The fake-Ethan is all about charm and self-improvement, while fake-Sophie devotes her life to her husband. With weaker actors, this could've felt hackneyed and boring, but with director Charlie McDowell guiding his cast, I think it works. I don't think the camerawork is that impressive, but as an actor's director, McDowell's off to a good start.
Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Olsen are each asked to play two different characters apiece, and their performances make the movie. The two Ethan's pathetic poker battle may as well have been two different actors, as there's such a gap in the way they carry themselves. Differences between the two Sophie's are more subtle, but still clear. Fake-Sophie tries to put out an accommodating front, but because she's Elisabeth Moss, there's always so much going on behind her eyes. When she gets called out by real-Ethan, I love the gradual melting of her smile into something much more serious.
In the hail of bullets, I want to call out the score as being bad for anything else, but perfect for the movie. It's unnerving and unpredictable with all its random noises, ideally sculpted to a movie where what's happening next is unclear. The ending is predictable, as every doppelganger movie or scene in general has to have one where a character can't tell the difference, picks one, and then regrets that pick later. The fake versions' unwillingness to engage with questions about what's going on is enraging, such that I began to doubt the humanity of the real versions. Real people would want to know what the fuck is happening before doing anything else. I'm overall positive, but this review didn't come naturally and was difficult to write. I liked The One I Love, but I'm not overly excited about it, and it's themes have been done better, in every way, by other movies. The definition of a C+.