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The One I Love (2014)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 11/4/2014
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/22/2014
The Duplass Brothers -- Mark and Jay -- have made a name for themselves over the years in the world of independent cinema. They are part of a movement known as "Mumblecore", which involves a lot of improvisational dialogue. Together, they have written and directed movies such asBaghead, Cyrus, and Jeff Who Lives at Home. Mark is also a very busy actor, popping up in many movies and appearing on the TV shows The League and The Mindy Project. While the siblings have scored some recognition with their personal projects, it may be as producers that they score their best film, as The One I Love emerges as the best Duplass-related product thus far.
Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) are a couple who have hit a rough patch in their marriage. They seek the help of a therapist (Ted Danson), who listens to their issues, puts them through some exercises, and then recommends a retreat. The couple arrives at the beautiful property which includes a main house, a guest house, and a small recording studio. They have the place to themselves and decide to give it a go. They discover that the property holds some very odd secrets and that their relationship will be put to tests that they could not imagine.
I hate to sound like every other person who has reviewed The One I Love, but I have to be very vague about the story. To go in informed of what happens would rob the movie of some of its magic. The movie doesn’t contain a twist as much as the narrative quickly goes into a surprising direction which makes it unique amongst dramas. To call it science-fiction or fantasy would be a misnomer, but the movie transcends its very “normal”-looking opening and goes in some very unexpected directions.
These unusual take on the genre allows Writer Justin Lader and Director Charlie McDowell (the son of Macolm McDowell and Mary Steenburgen) to explore their ideas outside the bounds of the traditional “realistic fiction” boundaries. The movie’s basic point is very simple -- How happy are you with your significant other and what would you like to see changed? As no one is perfect and even the happiest of couples aren’t pleased with one another 100% of the time, this is a question with universal appeal and it really makes you think as you watch the film. Ethan and Sophie are faced with this notion and it makes them examine the difference between little quirks and things which they actually don’t like about one another. Lader has laid down a nice narrative structure here, as what begins as an unusual film offers optimally timed turns in the story as the film progresses. Kudos to McDowell (who clearly got some help from the Duplass’) for keeping things nice and streamlined in what could have easily been a very confusing story. (More on that in a moment.) (It’s important to point out that which the story in The One I Love is indeed quirky, it’s not “weird” and those who try to avoid “weird” movies should not shy away from this exceptional movie.)
A great deal of credit must also go to Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss for, save for two scenes in the beginning, they are the only actors to appear on-screen in the movie. They are asked to carry the film and they go a great job. Duplass brings his typically goofiness to the role, but he’s also able to handle the serious moments as well. He brings some much needed humor to the film and has one great line which had to be an ad-lib. (And is it just me or does he look like he could be the brother of Sam and Ted Raimi?) Conversely, Moss begins the film as very dour and agitated, but begins to lighten her mood as the story progresses. She does a great job of showing that she can be more than Betty from Mad Men. Rarely are actors asked to carry a movie like this and the duo pull it off smashingly.
Again, I wish that I could tell you more about The One I Love, but I really can’t. Just suffice it to say that this is truly a “diamond in the rough” in that I put it on with zero expectations and was transfixed until the very end. Speaking of which the final act contains the movie’s only glaring flaw. It must be said that the final twist in the story is a bit confusing and isn’t explained as well as it should have been. We are never told why or how what is happening is happening, but there are ground rules to the events and a rule is suddenly introduced in the last few minutes which truly felt glossed over. That aside, this was a great debut feature for McDowell and Lader and it shows that, if nothing else, the Duplass’ have a talent for picking projects to support.
The One I Love does nothing to help the already questionable well that mental health care is portrayed in movie on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Radius TWC and Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 26 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no notable grain or defects from the source material. The film has been shot in a very natural style and the exterior daytime scenes look so crisp that it looks as if you could step into them. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good as well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. For the most part, this is a quiet, dialogue driven film, but we get a few instances of sounds coming from off-screen which are highlighted in the front and rear channels, and there is one moment in the finale which brings in the subwoofer.
The One I Love Blu-ray Disc contains only two extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Charlie McDowell and Mark Duplass. This is an entertaining talk, but they don't offer enough in-depth information. The "Visual Effects Reel" (2 minutes) takes us through some shots layer-by-layer to show how green-screen and multiple takes were used to create the illusions in the film.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long