The One I Love Movie Plot:
Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elizabeth Moss) try to mend their marriage after Ethan’s cheated, but therapy doesn’t seem to be working. So their therapist (Ted Danson) sends them on a weekend retreat from where other “hopeless” couples like them have returned more in love.
The retreat seems lovely: The pretty house comes with a swimming pool and a guesthouse. But after a short while, Ethan and Sophie seem to experience things together that one of them doesn’t remember having. Which is strange, because we saw them have those experiences. Except the experiences they are not remembering are being lived with an alternate, better version:
Whenever one of them goes to the guesthouse alone, their loved one’s alternate version awaits. The alternate Ethan is cuter, more sensitive, more romantic, funnier. The alternate Sophie is more relaxed, understanding and willing to let bygones be bygones.
While the real, curious Ethan tries to figure out the how and why, Sophie just wants to enjoy the improved Ethan and starts falling for him.
Can Ethan win his wife back from himself and solve the puzzle?
The One I Love is a brave and interesting blend of genres with some decent questions for any writer and anyone in a complicated relationship. I’ve recently watched more and more romantic sci-fi films, and the blend improves and enriches storytelling opportunities for both genres.
When you are watching a romantic drama or a romantic comedy, you’ll eventually run out of original (yet realistic) reasons of keeping your couple apart. In-laws, personality clashes, societal differences, unfaithfulness,
financial distress, loss of a child, caring for an elderly parent, drifting apart….
And while The One I Love uses drifting apart and cheating for the couple’s initial problems, the movie becomes much more intriguing as the sci-fi part is introduced. What or who are these alternate versions? How does the therapist know about this place? What happens if one partner falls for the “better” version?
As you try to find out, part of you roots for Ethan and feels sorry for him. And part of you roots for the other Ethan, and feels glad as Ethan gets a taste of what he did as Sophie unknowingly slept with the other Ethan. But since the actual world can have only one Ethan and Sophie, which ones will get out?
I thoroughly enjoyed the film. Admittedly, there are parts in the beginning that feel repetitive and frustrating, but I believe that’s intentional. That’s exactly how Sophie and Ethan are feeling: stuck. They love each other, but the distance and disappointment seem more than they can handle.
And when the alternates are introduced, you try with the original Ethan to figure it out.
This is a well-done, mysterious romantic drama that deserves a watch. It’s also a great example of a low-budget, limited location story that relies on a handful of actors.
Written by Justin Lader and directed by Charlie McDowell.
What other terrific romantic/dramatic sci-fi movies can I recommend? Be sure to watch:
- The Adjustment Bureau starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt
- Another Earth starring Brit Marling and William Mapother
Have you seen The One I Love? What are your favorite romantic sci-fi films?