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On the brink of separation, Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) escape to a beautiful vacation house for a weekend getaway in an attempt to save their marriage. What begins as a romantic and fun retreat soon becomes surreal, when an unexpected discovery forces the two to examine themselves, their relationship, and their future. (From the Anchor Bay synopsis)

 One I Love, The
Much of the promotional material for The One I Love, including the synopsis above, carefully tiptoes around the conceit of this movie. It's hard to write about it without addressing the plot device, and it is revealed early in the movie. But if you don't want it to be spoiled for you here's your chance to back out.

When Ethan and Sophie are exploring the vacation home they find a quaint guest house out back. Whenever one of them enters the guest house alone, they find another version of their spouse inside. This isn't some mere copy. This alternate version of their spouse is the best version of them. It's everything they want their significant other to be. Ethan appropriately describes it as a Twilight Zone situation. Cleverly, the movie doesn't waste a lot of time with the characters being clueless. They quickly figure out what is happening and then the plot device is used to explore their relationship issues in interesting ways. This conceit also allows for some dramatic situations that are totally unique to this story, not unlike some of Charlie Kaufman's work. It thankfully does not settle for having a neat premise and follows through with it to create interesting situations.

 One I Love, The
Much of this movie's success rests on Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss who each get interesting double roles here, and they pull it off admirably. Though its not quite a mumblecore movie like the ones Mark Duplass makes with his brother Jay, but much of the dialogue was improvised or written right before shooting. This is Duplass's wheelhouse and he makes it look effortless. This is my first time really seeing Moss play a character outside of Peggy Olson from Mad Men, where I find her the most interesting and compelling character of the series. Moss has the harder role here, oscillating between two very different versions of her character. She is completely convincing as the wounded Sophie who is struggling to keep her marriage together, and the creepy Stepford wife version of Sophie that Ethan encounters when he enters the guest house.

While I really love the twist this movie puts on a typical romantic drama, there are times when the premise takes precedence over the characters. It is the kind of conceit that could never be rationalized in a satisfying way, but much time is dedicated to the characters trying to figure out why it is happening. At the same time, I can't offer a solution to this problem cause it would feel dishonest if these characters weren't wanting to learn more about this aberration. But I found it hard to shake the impression that the filmmakers were more interested in the sci-fi twist than the relationship at the center of the story. Still, this is a really unique and cool take on the standard formula and well worth a watch.

 One I Love, The

Video


The One I Love was shot digitally and looks very clean and sharp in this 1080p transfer. The movie is on a BD-25 disc, but with few extras on board this is plenty of space for a healthy bitrate. Director Charlie McDowell and cinematographer Doug Emmett play with lenses and color to separate the outside world from the guest house world. Some scenes will have a more dreamy, sometimes out of focus look to them while others will look very natural and sharp. These choices result in some blurry images and unnatural colors on occasion, but these are stylistic choices and no fault of the transfer process. Overall the image looks very good with no discernible digital artefacts.

Audio


The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track on this disc suits the movie well. The real highlight is the music from Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans, which can be appropriately dramatic at times but also compliments the weirder aspects of the movie with some paranoid compositions. This is a writer's movie that focuses mostly on conversations, so the sound mix only really feels lively when the music kicks in. Dialogue levels are perfectly fine and easy to hear amid the rest of the mix. I never had to adjust my volume cause the music was too loud or the dialogue was too soft, which has been a growing issue with blockbuster movies for me lately.

 One I Love, The

Extras


The short list of extras starts with a Commentary with Director Charlie McDowell and Mark Duplass. Duplass ans McDowell have a great rapport together, likely because Duplass is a director himself. They keep it mostly informative but take time to joke around and tell amusing anecdotes. I particularly liked how they mocked one of their own metaphors in the movie. They talk a lot about the development of the screenplay/script as they were shooting. Much more seems improvised or written just before shooting than I imagined. This is a good listen for fans and there isn't much dead air at all. The only other feature is a Visual Effects Reel (HD, 02:01). This is just a video montage with music that shows how green screens were used to achieve some of the movies visual tricks.

 One I Love, The

Overall


The One I Love puts a really neat twist on the traditional relationship drama and makes great use of it. At the heart of it are compelling performances from Mark Duplass ans Elisabeth Moss. Knowing its tricks, I don't foresee it holding up too well on repeat viewings, but I highly encourage fans of the cast or those looking for something a little different to give it a whirl. Anchor Bay's Blu-ray release is sadly light on extras, but strong in the audio/video department.

* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


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