The One I Love
Potential spoiler warning: Widespread disagreements have spawned in regards to what constitutes a "spoiler" re: The One I Love. The following review details the general premise of the film, as per what I consider to be fair game. However, some other writers (who I respect quite a bit) have insisted that revealing such information would be giving away the movie's principal twist which, in my defense, occurs very early on in the movie. Use your judgment and proceed with caution!
You can practically hear a bright-eyed Mark Duplass shouting, "Here's an idea!" when you latch onto the beginnings of The One I Love - the real beginning, past the nothing-out-of-the-ordinary setup that introduces Duplass and Elisabeth Moss as a married couple whose relationship has gone sour. On the insistence of their counselor (Ted Danson, who singlehandedly saves the first chapter of this film from succumbing to the doldrums, and then disappears far too soon), the pair take vacation in a remote cabin allotted for the mending of fraying love affairs. Then, the "idea!" kicks in - Duplass and Moss are thrust into a fantastical realm/psychological allegory in which each is faced with the perfect version of one another. Like, in addition to the real versions. Clones. There are clones.
But, to reiterate, strategically idealized clones, and ones that work to serve any number of the hypotheticals entertained in marriage counseling, couples arguments, or simply inside the head of somebody who considers what he or she might wish to change about the person sleeping six inches to the right.
However, The One I Love fails to make the most of its interesting, dense concept. While it should spend its time playing with the psychologically, sociologically, and philosophically rich premise that it cooks up for Duplass and Moss, the movie gets distracted by the busy work of keeping the fantastical functions in check, of paving its story with a thick layer of mystery, and begging the audience to wonder how they're gonna get out of this pickle!
Sadly, that's not where the real meat of The One I Love lies. With the promise of a riveting examination of the mindset behind wishing your own husband or wife was different, smarter, nicer, more attractive, in better shape, a better cook, or simply like he or she used to be, we set up for the very idea that must have gotten Mark Duplass' heart racing in the first place. But when the movie decides that it'd rather be thrilling, enigmatic, and riddled with twists than an honest human story, its appeal fades away, And far too soon... just like Ted Danson.