Something happens 13 minutes into The One I Love that changes everything for its characters, plot and audience expectation for the raved about Sundance rom-com. Most reviews out of Sundance delicately danced around this pivotal plot point so as not to spoil it for the untold masses who had not made it to Park City that January. The film's first trailer teases this mystery moment, and the film's stars refuse to speak about it directly. Welcome to the world spoiler alerts has wrought.
For all my grousing, I commend the team behind The One I Love for preserving the secret of the film's second act. It's an element that if revealed could definitely make the movie an easier sell to audiences who might otherwise write it off as another indie relationship drama. But not knowing what this twist is undeniably makes its reveal more fun in theaters. Still, it makes it tricky to conduct an interview when no one will talk about the central plot device of a film.
Nonetheless, I had a blast speaking with The One I Love's director Charlie McDowell, and stars Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss. In a conversation filled with tip-toeing and Easter eggs, we uncovered the unconventional filmmaking behind this celebrated comedy, the magic in its making, and how it could prove the final straw in a soured relationship.
The One I Love is a great date movie. Being about a couple on the verge of divorce, this romantic comedy poses some tough questions that could make any couple reflect on their own relationship. Still, Duplass insists, "It's a fantastic date movie! And we have to say that, because it’s a romantic comedy, but--"
Moss interjects, "The discussions afterwards!"
Duplass finishes the thought, "It’s all about the coffee shop afterwards."
The pair agreed that this is a movie that will provide great fodder for conversation afterwards, especially because of its ending. "You know, without giving too much away," Duplass explained, "There are quite a few interpretations as to what is happening and what does happen at the end of the film, and everyone who comes to us is convinced they’re right."
The One I Love is a litmus test for your relationship. "We apologize in advance for couples breaking up," Moss offered. But her co-star insists that if The One I Love splits you up, "You shouldn’t have been together in the first place. You owe it to us."
Director Charlie McDowell concurs, "But then that’s a great date movie, because then you’re not supposed to be with that person." He admits the movie is meant to raise questions that force the audience to reflect on their own lives and loves.
Moss added, "I feel like you’re going to go to see this movie and you’re going to wonder--whether you’re in a relationship or not--what you would do in that situation. I’ve already had people ask me, 'So if that happened to you, what would you do?? Would you stay or would you go?' I think it’s interesting to think like, as a couple, what would you do? Would it make you explore your relationship? Would it not? Because it is a real couple. There’s nothing weird about us. We are a totally normal couple in the movie, so it allows the audience to enter this more unusual idea on a path that they’re familiar with, you know."