A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The One I Love is an offbeat indie dramedy (with a thriller streak) about the ways that people in long-term relationships slowly change -- and how those changes affect their partners. At the suggestion of their therapist, the main characters spend a weekend away at a small compound; they ultimately learn far more about each other, and themselves, than they expected or wanted. Expect several scenes with with pot smoking and social drinking, some swearing ("f--k," "s--t," etc.), and a few tender love scenes (no nudity). Be prepared to be surprised.
What's the story?
Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) and Ethan (Mark Duplass) are a married couple on the verge of breaking up. Their therapist sends them on a getaway to a mini-estate in a last-ditch effort to make inroads in their efforts to renew their stalled, damaged relationship. They're ostensibly by themselves ... or are they? In the guest house is another couple who's surprisingly similar to them and knows lots of intimate details about their lives. The encounter forces Sophie and Ethan to examine themselves, both as individuals and as a duo, and they come to some surprising conclusions.
Is it any good?
THE ONE I LOVE is fresh and eerie and insightful all at once, hard to categorize either as a romance (because much of it is about love) or as a thriller (because it is creepy). Much of the film's charm is attributable to Moss. She grounds the movie in an approachable authenticity, even as she manages to inhabit a role that's both ineffable and earthy. She's a master at subtlety without shorting her portrayal of a woman at a loss on how to make her marriage work, if she even wants to. She's the best part of the film. (Duplass' Ethan doesn't seem as specific as Moss' Sophie; we don't quite know why he makes the choices he does.)
An offbeat script allows The One I Love to straddle different genres with a certain degree of success, taking unpredictable turns while hitting certain milestones that we tend to expect from both relationship dramas and thrillers. Once you give yourself over to the plot's bizarro nature, you're attached to Sophie and Ethan (perhaps more Sophie than Ethan), wondering where this windy road leads. The ending may still leave you with questions, but it is satisfying. And, frankly, disheartening.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The One I Love depicts love and marriage. Are its insights fresh and new? What's the overarching message?
What does the movie say about identity? How is it different from other romantic dramas/comedies you've seen?
What role do drinking and drug use play in the movie? Are there realistic consequences?
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