The One I Love | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The One I Love

Charlie McDowell's relationship dramedy veers into the surreal

click to enlarge Unhappily married: Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss
Unhappily married: Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss

Viewers might find Charlie McDowell's relationship dramedy The One I Love intriguing, infuriating or a little of both. It's a bit hard to talk about without revealing important twists.

It begins in a straightforward manner, with Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) trying to mend their broken relationship in a therapist's office. Each is wistful about how romantic their lives used to be, and the seemingly impossible task of bringing that blissful state back. The therapist (Ted Danson) prescribes a weekend away at a remote and luxurious country house.

It's a retreat with some odd properties, as both Ethan and Sophie discover that the guesthouse contains the idealized duplicates of their partners. Thus, Ethan is delighted when the other-Sophie makes him forbidden bacon, and other-Ethan says just the right thing to make Sophie feel appreciated. This works fine as a metaphor/therapy exercise, as the two bounce between imperfect and perfect versions of their relationship. Of the two, Ethan is more analytical about what's happening, while Sophie simply luxuriates in the unexplained happiness — reactions that perhaps mirror their ongoing incompatibility.

Duplass and Moss play both versions of themselves, with only small changes in costume and manner. But it's enough for viewers to follow along ... until there is another development. The film proffers an explanation that makes this two-handed exploration of a relationship somewhat muddled. Or maybe not: There's a certain logic if viewers are willing to make the leap.

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