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Author of queer, wry sci fi/fantasy books. On Amazon.
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Monday, 25 January 2016

The One I Love: A Missed It Review

Hello hello!

So, you know how Missed It reviews work by now--I surf around on Netflix, pull up a less than recent release which is either an indie gem or an indie turd, or sometimes, it's a cultural classic that I've never had a chance to track down. This time, it's an indie gem--The One I Love, starring Elizabeth Moss (Hi, Peggy from Mad Men!). Recommendation credit goes to Sarah Dimento, she of the excellent blog.

There will be a few


but as always, I will try to keep them to a minimum.



A man and a woman are in a relationship. That relationship has gone stale. We've all heard that one before--but the direction this film takes is decidedly unusual. It's a Philip K. Dick-style twist on relationship counselling. In the most literal take on self-reflection possible, the couple soon discovers that their strange, idyllic cottage hosts not only themselves, but idealised versions of themselves. What they do with the revelation, and their doppelgangers, forms the rest of the drama.

The biggest thing about this film is that not only does it do a lot with a little--it's similar to Safety Not Guaranteed or Timer. Like those two, this speculative fiction film really explores a concept without resorting to fancy CGI or effects-and -like the other two, it stayed with me.


The cinematography is great, and the movie avoids the problems rife with mumblecore. The characters are likeable, everything looks appealing, and the darkly comedic setup never stoops for a laugh or makes the protagonists too despicable to tolerate. The acting is excellent, and while the pacing was a bit imperfect, this is one of the best low-budget movies I've seen. I guess CGI or something must have been used to allow the actors to appear in the same frames as themselves, but it wasn't noticeable. The movie is very unsettling in a way--especially given one of its possible interpretations--and there's no sense of cheapness or emotional shortcuts in the writing.


I flipped through a few reviews online, and as people discussed the intricate rules of the house versus the guest house, a lot of reviewers failed to notice that Other Ethan and Other Sophie eventually came to be more like the previous versions of the characters--even while Ethan and Sophie themselves took on more ideal traits as their relationship was tested. Of course, the ending is eerie, and calls into question whether Ethan left with "the right Sophie"--but what if there never really was a "wrong Sophie"? My personal theory is that the characters can't leave the house until they've turned into the ideal people they were trying to become. All the photos and stuff were a trap, or a fake-out of some sort--the characters are essentially confronting alternate versions of themselves.

Other critics, though, offered the unsettling and intriguing suggestion that the movie is about the ephemeral idea of a perfect partner. The Other Sophie and Other Ethan are, in some ways, very different from their real-world versions. Some people said that the Others replace the couple out in the real world, and the original couple then has to help the next couple and replace them in order to gain their freedom. But that makes less sense than some sort of shape-shifting robot or echo or something that simply remains on-site, at the holiday house.

Still, if you don't mind debating these ideas with your viewing partner after watching this, you'll be very rewarded.

Final verdict

Still, the fact that the movie has multiple interpretations and layers is what makes it worthwhile; I'm not sure why people called it "uneven" or weird, but if you let this movie take your hand and guide you through its strangeness, you'll be in for a really strange and wonderful, thought-provoking treat--that might even make you reconsider and appreciate your own relationship.


  1. Thanks. I always enjoy reading your reviews.

  2. I really need to see Safety Not Guaranteed. It's one of those movies I keep meaning to see, but I keep not getting around to it.

  3. Alright, no more stalling. It turns out the library has a copy of Safety Not Guaranteed, so I placed a hold. It says I'm #1 in line, so I'll get to see it soon. =)


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