Struggling with a marriage on the brink of falling apart, a couple escapes for a weekend in pursuit of their better selves, only to discover an unusual dilemma that awaits them.
Directed by: Charlie McDowell
. Starring: Mark Duplass
, Elisabeth Moss
, Ted Danson
, Kiana Cason
, Kaitlyn Dodson
, Lori Farrar
, Marlee Matlin
, Tim Peddicord
, Ryan Pederson
, Brett Bietz
, Sean O'Malley
, Mary Steenburgen
, Drew Langer
. Music by: Danny Bensi
, Saunder Jurriaans
At the beginning we see Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Kate Moss) in a session with their marriage therapist (Ted Danson). They fell in love instantly but after several years the marriage has soured. Each tries in their own way to get it going again, but to no avail. The marriage has lost its magic. The therapist knows just the place for them to spend a weekend at. He assures them they won't be disappointed. It's a great place to reconnect, and so off they go, driving along country roads to reach their destination. Nothing strange about this. They arrive at the ample-sized, well-appointed house and settle in, desperately trying to reconnect again.
The grounds are lush and beautiful with vegetation and flowers in bloom, and they can see mountains nearby. There is a large gorgeous pool. It's an idyllic spot. Perfect for trying to restore a flagging marriage.
Ethan goes out to explore the grounds. Wandering around, he discovers a guesthouse. He enters. To his surprise he finds Sophie there. She has made him breakfast. Even more surprised, he notes she has made him bacon (which he loves) in spite of the fact she doesn't like its smell. Soon they are making passionate love. She tells him she wants to stay in the guesthouse a while, and so he returns to the main house. When he enters, he discovers Sophie. Surprised that she had beat him back to the main house, he soon learns she knows nothing about the guesthouse, making breakfast for him, or making love with him. Ethan is dumbfounded.
With this introduction things grow progressively weirder. Sophie hears Ethan's story and decides she wants to venture into the guesthouse to see what she finds. There she meets Ethan. But this Ethan isn't quite the same Ethan she left behind in the main house. This Ethan has all the qualities she finds lacking in her Ethan: funny, at ease with himself, sexy. And in addition this Ethan doesn't wear glasses, while her Ethan always does.
The glasses-wearing Ethan takes Sophie to a diner in town where they discuss what they've experienced. They both try to get a hold on what's going on, with Ethan more insistent they should leave immediately. But Sophie talks him into staying. They could just go along with the flow and see what comes of it. What's the harm in that, she implies. Soon Ethan and Sophie are venturing separately into the guesthouse, each to meet their spouse's doppelgänger.
Slowly, inexorably, Sophie falls in love with Ethan 2. Ethan has a good time with Sophie 2. She's a lot of fun, but he's convinced both she and Ethan 2 are just inexplicable figments of his imagination or even possibly creatures from another dimension. Unexpectedly Ethan and Sophie find Ethan 2 and Sophie 2 in the living room of the main house. They all four have dinner together. Ethan stills tries to make rational sense of what's happening, and he and Sophie learn that Ethan 2 and Sophie 2 are trapped on the estate. They can only escape this fate if Ethan falls in love with Sophie 2 and Sophie falls in love with Ethan 2.
In the guesthouse Ethan stumbles on their therapist's computer and finds his files. He discovers that Ethan 2 and Sophie 2 had to learn their roles. He wants now more than ever to leave with Sophie and flee this bizarre estate as soon as possible. Sophie is the woman he married and he must leave with her. Their doppelgängers must stay behind. But Sophie insists she's staying. Sophie's also given a blue jacket like the one's she wearing to Sophie 2. So in addition not only do they physically look identical, they are dressed identical.
The kicker comes when Sophie 2 tells Ethan things aren't going as planned because Ethan 2 has fallen in love with Sophie (it wasn't supposed to happen that way). Ethan 2 tries to run away but hits an invisible barrier that either kills him or knocks him unconscious (I couldn't tell). Both Sophies surround his supine body. Only one of them must accompany Ethan. One is dejected; one smiles coyly at him. He escapes with the Sophie that has smiled at him, leaving behind Ethan 2 and the other Sophie at the estate. Getting back in town, he immediately goes to the therapist's office to seek out the truth. But the office is totally deserted, as though the therapist had never existed. We learn at the end which Sophie Ethan chose through a subtle clue. But the story holds true to its title: both Ethan and Sophie get the one they love.
Although the movie's title suggests a nice snug romance, it is in reality a strange form of science fiction. It moves along okay and mostly keeps the intrigue up, but it never pushes much at what's happening at a deeper level. And it certainly had the potential to do so. It leaves open different interpretations although clues are given. Earlier this year I saw a movie titled Enemy that also involved a doppelgänger situation. It too skirted the issue of what the deeper meaning was, although again clues were given for those who like to scratch their heads.
Personally I would very much have liked it if The One I Love had followed the weirdness it intimated at further than it did into the realm of true spookiness like another sci-fi I saw recently: Under the Skin. The actors were certainly capable of pulling it off. Perhaps the director didn't want to deviate too much from the quasi-romantic script. But delving deeper into the sci-fi angle would have really bent the genre. In short it could have been a lot more gripping, but if you like off-beat movies with brain-twisters, this one is definitely worthwhile.
Review by jkbonner1 from the Internet Movie Database.