Monday, August 18, 2014

The rom-com takes off into very weird territory in Charlie McDowell's bizarre THE ONE I LOVE

TrustMovies often notes, re the movies he covers, that the less said about plot mechanics the better. If any film ever deserved this kind of respectful coverage, it's THE ONE I LOVE (talk about ironic titles!), the first full-lengther from a fellow named Charlie McDowell. In it, a relatively young, been-together-awhile couple having relationship troubles visits a therapist (the always welcome Ted Danson) who suggests that they get away for a long weekend and try to "repair." They do. What follows is the rest of the movie.

As both writer and director, Mr. McDowell, shown at left, has set himself quite a task here -- one in which subtlety and the ability to make the most minor changes barely visible count for just about all. To that end, he has cast two really excellent actors -- Mark Duplass and Elizabeth Moss -- both of whom manage to surprise us here. Consequently, both of their reputations should see an even greater rise, once word-of-mouth gets going on this movie, a genuine original, particularly in the field of romantic comedies, the borders of which The One I Love has now greatly expanded.

In the course of this movie, the better attention you pay to the performances of Mr. Duplass (above) and Ms Moss (below), the more surprise and enjoyment you're bound to reap. The two are so attuned to the subtleties necessary for the plot to properly work that I suspect I'll have to view the movie again (and I will) to fully appreciate what the pair, along with their writer/director, are doing.

The movie asks -- over and over, as it turns out -- the questions of Who we are, and more specifically, Who are we to each other: a prime reason that romantic comedy even exists. The answers we get are unlike any others we may have discovered along the rom-com route, which helps make this movie as delightfully different as it is. Duplass keeps exceeding himself in movie after movie. He's such a perfect "everyman," and yet he's one who keeps unveiling even more: Wow--I never realized how sexy he could be! Hmmm... he really is a comedian. God, he can even be creepy at times.

Moss, on the other hand, is a past master (see Mad Men) at holding back, saying one thing while feeling another. She has the subtler of the two roles, and to claim that she comes through with flying colors is to make a little too much noise about what she so quietly manages.

So, there. I've told you practically nothing about this unusual film. You're just going to have to see it. And on the big screen, if possible. Sorry -- an iPhone or even a tablet simply will not put you in touch with these two spectacular performances in the way you need to see them.

The One I Love -- from RADiUS/TWC and running 91 minutes -- opens this Friday, August 22, in New York at the Angelika Film Center, and in the Los Angeles area, as well. I cannot find the specific theater for L.A. this Friday, but I am told that the film will play at two Laemmle theaters beginning August 29, and then at two more beginning September 5. (Note: There wil be a personal appearance by the film's director at New York City's Angelika on Friday and Saturday, August 22 and 23, at the 7:15pm screening.)

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