A Sci-Fi Honey ‘Twisted Love’ Review by Katie

The One I Love (2014)

Attention married or otherwise romantically engaged readers: I know you love your significant others, but aren’t there ways they could be a little… I don’t know… better? Of course, you love them for who they are, but aren’t there certain things you would change if you could? What if you had a chance to meet the perfect version of the person you were already in love with – would they be your ideal mate, or do you prefer them as they are, in spite of all their flaws?

Such questions are posed, and many go unanswered, in Charlie McDowell’s odd rom-com-dram The One I Love. The best viewing experience you will have with this film is if you jump into it without knowing a thing, and the mere fact that I’m reviewing it as the Sci-Fi Honey is almost giving too much away. This will be the most difficult review I’ve ever written, in terms of keeping it spoiler-free – but hopefully I’ll leave you just intrigued enough to hop on Netflix and check out this absurdly amusing and thought-provoking piece of cinema.

Starring: gorgeous people.
The always-amazing Mark Duplass (note: this review is biased, because I’m in love with him) and Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss play Ethan and Sophie, a married couple who have lost their spark. At the urging of their therapist (Ted Danson, the director’s real-life stepfather), they plan a weekend getaway in a secluded vacation home, where they soon discover more about their partner – and themselves – than perhaps they wanted to. While I won’t reveal the fantastical secret behind their discovery, I will say that one character likens their situation to an episode of The Twilight Zone; indeed, there are many dimensions to a romantic relationship, and some are located in a realm beyond our understanding. 

Also, couples’ therapy is like being sucked into a black hole.    
Sci-fi qualities aside, The One I Love takes a hard and real look at the state of modern relationships. Ethan and Sophie contemplate what it would be like to encounter ideal versions of their spouses and themselves, but the film is only literalizing what many of us do in our own fantasies on a daily basis. The film opens with Ethan recounting a memory – a happy time the two of them shared, early in the relationship when everything was magic – and memories can be so distorted, they are by nature a form of alternate reality. You don’t need a cosmic intervention to traverse space and time, all you need is memory to access the past and imagination to access the future. Couple this with our own personal projections, and we can create any version of our loved ones we want – whether it represents actual “reality” or not.

In my alternate reality, I'm married to Mark Duplass.
The questions I posed above are rampant in McDowell’s film, some voiced aloud by Ethan and Sophie, and some just pondered by the audience. Romantic comedies are ordinarily viewed as escapist fare, with no aim higher than entertainment; The One I Love, on the other hand, is imbued with a darker tone that explores the subject from a more philosophical perspective. While not explicitly sci-fi or horror, the film’s depiction of the “uncanny” will leave you unsettled, and eyeing your partner with a more apprehensive gaze than ever before.

Sci-Fi Honey Rating: Four romantically metaphysical mind-trips out of five.