The One I Love slipped in and out of the local theaters with little fanfare, and that’s a shame. With a little more time, it could have caught some mild indie fire. Similar to Mark Duplass’ new and highly recommended tv show Togetherness, The One I Love features Duplass and co-star Elizabeth Moss as a young, struggling married couple. The film opens with the two in therapy where it’s quickly evident that they are growing estranged from each other. Their therapist, played by Ted Danson, insists they go on a weekend retreat. He’s got just the spot for them. Duplass and Moss head off for some rest, relaxation, and reconciliation. They smoke some pot, they have some sex, and things are going well until things get weird.
Mild spoiler alert to follow. The idyllic start takes a sudden turn when the couple realizes that they are not alone. Worse than being terrorized by strangers, the people they find inhabiting the cottage are idealized versions of themselves. Whenever Duplass retreats to the guest house on the property he meets a kinder, more tolerant, more sexy version of his wife. When Moss enters the guest house, she meets a more easy going, less cynical, less bitter version of her husband. She’s reunited with the man she fell in love with years earlier. Confronted by their doppelgangers, the couple runs, but then are sucked back to explore the possibilities. Duplass wants nothing to do with this house of mirrors, but Moss, who is clearly more wounded by their disintegrating marriage, feels that regardless of the bizarre nature of this occurrence, it represents possibilities worth exploring.
The One I Love sets a great tone. It’s got a bit of austere sci-fi creep, with hints of The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, and late night 70s B Movies like Magic. It also owes a debt to John Frankenheimer’s Seconds. But there’s dark comedy floating about as well. Only one of them can experience a doppelganger at a time. They have to hash out the ground rules for this trust exercise. It’s funny stuff. Obviously insecurities arise. Sometimes they are played for comedy, other times for melancholy.
The One I Love is streaming on Netflix and worth 90 minutes of your time.