"The One I Love" is an independent film that only has three actors but contains five characters. Intrigued or confused? That's exactly how this psychological thriller will make you feel. Directed by Charlie McDowell and starring Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss, this film will have your brain trying to piece the puzzle together and thinking "WTF is going on?"
The film starts off with Ethan and Sophie at their marriage therapy session. Their lost connection in their relationship is evident and their disagreements continue to move toward the opposite ends of the spectrum as the therapy session goes on. The therapist advises them to go on a weekend getaway trip to this large secluded estate in Ojai. The couple agrees and that's where most of the story takes place. This seems like a regular romantic drama? WRONG. This is when sh*t gets real.
If you're looking for something cerebral and out-of-this-world to watch on Netflix, I recommend this film.
On the first night there, Ethan and Sophie relaxes by smoking weed. Sophie decides to check out the guest house and while there, Ethan appears without wearing his usual glasses. He seduces Sophie and eventually they make love.
Ethan suggests that they sleep in the guest house so Sophie goes back to the main house to grab her clothes. On her way to the bedroom she sees Ethan suddenly on the couch fast asleep. Sophie thinks it's a joke at first but Ethan is genuinely confused. He denies having sex with Sophie and claims that he has been on the couch the whole time. Sophie doesn't believe him and blames Ethan for ruining their night.
The next morning, Ethan wakes up to the aroma of bacon and eggs. Sophie is seen cooking for him and acting like a docile housewife. Sophie usully hates it when Ethan eats bacon so Ethan is utterly confused. He goes upstairs and finds Sophie coming out from the bathroom. Whoa. The film just got freaky. Ethan drags Sophie back to the kitchen but the bacon and eggs are gone. The aroma of the bacon disappears as if it never existed. How is that possible? Everyone knows that the smell of bacon lingers on. Who the hell was that woman in the kitchen?
We gradually realize that Ethan and Sophie are meeting each other's doppelganger when they walk into the guest house on their own. The doppelgangers are idealized versions of the spouses. It turns out the doppelgangers aren't able to leave the house and they are trapped on the estate. The question of what/who the hell are the doppelgangers comes to mind. Are they robots? Spirits? Hallucinations?
The doppelgangers are revealed to be the previous couple who the therapist sent to the retreat. The couple somehow had their identities removed and were replaced with Ethan's and Sophie's identities. The film doesn't go into detail about this and doesn't explain who the therapist really is, which sucks because that's what I was wondering the whole time. It seemed like they were in Twilight Zone.
In the beginning, I thought that the doppelgangers were suppose to help rekindle the lost romance between Ethan and Sophie but the plot uncover that they have their own agenda. Their purpose is to force Ethan and Sophie to fall out of love so they can escape and Ethan and Sophie will be trapped until the next troubling couple comes to the estate. The cycle will start all over again.
Sophie spends more time with Fake-Ethan and eventually falls in love with him. Fake-Ethan in return falls in love with Sophie. This encourages Fake-Sophie to conspire against him and help Ethan get Sophie back. Fake-Sophie distracts Fake-Ethan so Ethan can convince Sophie that what's going on is crazy and the doppelgangers are trying to kill their marriage! However, Fake-Ethan barges in and tells Sophie to run away with him. Sophie freezes up so Fake-Ethan runs off by himself and tries to escape until this weird invisible force stuns him. WTF.
The two Sophies run over and one of the Sophies looks down at Fake-Ethan. The other smiles at Ethan so he picks the smiling Sophie to escape. The ending is ambiguous. The director leaves it up to us to decide if it's the real Sophie or the fake Sophie that runs off with Ethan. I believe he took Fake-Sophie because back at their home, "Sophie" offers to cook him bacon and eggs. Now, only Fake-Sophie would do that for Ethan. Another reason why it's Fake-Sophie is becuase of how her makeup is done. There is a subtle difference between the makeup of the two Sophies. You can tell that Fake-Sophie wears more makeup and her face is brighter.
Some people can disagree by debating that maybe Sophie decided to change for Ethan because she loves him. I doubt that, especially the split-second look of horror on Ethan's face when Fake-Sophie offered to cook him bacon and eggs. Just from his expression, even Ethan doesn't think that Sophie would change herself for him because she doesn't love him anymore! Sophie even said it herself of how she plans to stay at the estate. We don't know if Fake-Sophie loves Ethan but she took the chance to escape her twisted destiny.
The acting is superb. I love the on-screen chemistry between Moss and Duplass. They were able to portray the differences between the real and fake couple really well. I can't believe Sophie chose Fake-Ethan. She got sucked into her fantasy of the "perfect Ethan" and Ethan settled for an appealing version of Sophie. It is tragic that their marriage is left in ruins.
Beware of doppelgangers!