On the brink of separation, Ethan and Sophie escape to a beautiful vacation house for a weekend getaway in an attempt to save their marriage. What begins as a romantic and fun retreat soon becomes surreal when an unexpected discovery forces the two to examine themselves, their relationship, and their future.
One of the things I enjoy about movies with scifi or fantastical elements are that not all questions posed are answered. Think about Lost and how the survivors had to deal with the Smoke Monster or having a Polar Bear on a tropical island. Or in the movie The Cube, strangers find themselves in metallic cube and try to work together to survive. These elements give us an interesting glimpse about the people themselves and how they react and deal with those elements. So it’s really no surprise why I liked watching The One I Love.
If you have not watched this movie, stop reading this now. Spoiler ahead!!!!!
A high mark for my viewing pleasure is how I can relate to the movie through the characters, the situation they are in or both. In the case of the movie, Sophie played by Elizabeth Moss who also in the series Mad Men as Peggy, I’ve always had a crush on her since then and in this movie, I love her even more. As for the situation, not that I am on the brink of a separation but with any long-term relationship there will always be rough patches; which I can relate. Nonetheless, the idea of not being in sync with your partner is universal and more in keeping on my current situation. There are days where everything flows just right and then wham! it feels like living with someone different. Let’s jump right in.
Ethan had an affair and yet, Ethan and Sophie are still together. The reason Ethan had the affair is not clear. Not that any affair is justifiable but one can at least understand the reasoning behind the action. For example, if a spouse were to have a crippling medical condition, the other may seek solace in another to deal with situation or through neglect, a spouse may feel emotional and physically abandon; hence why the affair can happen. In this movie, the reasoning behind Ethans’s affair is not fully known or needed in the context of the movie but rather serves the purpose of getting these characters to seek a marriage counselor played by Ted Danson at the beginning of the film. To highlight the couple being out of sync, the therapist sat the couple down to a piano and ask each one to play one note at the same time. When they each struck a different key it was not harmonious – it’s was off key. This is when the therapist sends the couple to a vacation house to get away from everything and allowing them to focus on themselves.
Once they are there, they see a separate cottage on property; this is when the fantastical element takes place. When each one is in the cottage by themselves, they see their spouse but slightly different version of them. If you look at the movie posters, I purposely flipped the second picture so you can see it right side up and that alone is very telling. When Sophie enters, she see Ethan 2 without glasses and is more warm, funny and in the moment. When Ethan enters, he sees Sophie 2 who does not harbor the anger from the affair Ethan had and makes him bacon and eggs something which Sophie detested. This really opens up a doorway about male/female relationships. If we were given a choice, would you want a clean slate to start over again in your relationship or would you want to have a more ideal version of your partner? Sure, we all makes mistakes in a relationship and over time, we carry around a great deal of baggage. Having a clean slate to get rid of the baggage is very appealing but, to me, I would rather have a more ideal version of my spouse. While either option is not going to happen, at least watching this movie we can why Sophie is falling in love with Ethan 2 because he is the more ideal version of Ethan.
There was a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode called “Second Chances”.
A distortion field surrounds a planet, giving one chance every eight years to visit the surface. Riker once had a mission there and their equipment was deserted in an effort to flee from the planet before the distortion returned. Having returned to the planet, he runs into another version of himself…marooned there eight years previous.
The difference between the two William T. Rikers, the first one refers to himself as William and the second as Thomas Riker; Thomas had always hated his first name. On board the Enterprise, Couselor Troi was at one time in a relationship with William T. Riker before they were assigned to this ship. They remained as both colleagues and as a friends with no romantic interest since William chose to focus on his career. When this episode occurs, Thomas had nothing but time to think about Troi for the past 8 years he was trapped but was happy to see her again after the rescue. Troi on the other hand felt confused by the idea of two Rikers let alone having one still in love with her. As time progressed, old feelings return in Troi and she slept with Thomas. Later, Troi confided with William about what happened. He even admitted to her that he was a bit jealous even though Thomas is just a version of him it might have well been another man.
There was a TED talk on Netflix I came across about Love and Cheating, the speaker Helen Fisher and she had this to say, “You become extremely sexually possessive. You know, if you’re just sleeping with somebody casually, you don’t really care if they’re sleeping with somebody else. But the moment you fall in love, you become extremely sexually possessive of them. I think there’s a Darwinian purpose to this. The whole point of this is to pull two people together strongly enough to begin to rear babies as a team.” If we use this notion, should Will Riker be jealous of Thomas? Should Ethan be jealous of Ethan 2?
In both cases, the doppelgangers were better versions of their counterpart. William was still in love with Troi though nothing happened through the remaining Trek seasons and not until the last Next Generation movie – Nemesis, did they get ultimately married. With Ethan, he was seeing the writing on the wall with Ethan 2. At one point, Ethan pretended to be Ethan 2 and wound up sleeping with Sophie; not Sophie 2. During their love making, Sophie confessed how much she missed Ethan but really it was the qualities of Ethan 2 that she missed – that emotional connection. Fisher later mentioned, “But the main characteristics of romantic love are craving: an intense craving to be with a particular person, not just sexually, but emotionally. It would be nice to go to bed with them, but you want them to call you on the telephone, to invite you out, etc., to tell you that they love you.”
By the third act of the film, the doppelgangers of Ethan and Sophie, no longer limited to the cottage, suddenly appeared at the vacation house. In a twist of events, Ethan 2 reveals to Sophie that when she thought she was sleeping with Ethan 2 it was really Ethan. Sophie 2 revealed to Ethan that she was in love was Ethan 2 and wanted to stay with him. In exchange, Sophie 2 was willing to help Ethan leave with Sophie. The problem lied with the fact that only 1 couple could leave the premise while the other remains trapped on the property. When Ethan 2 got wind of what Sophie 2 was doing, he ran out of the house, down the road and crashed into an invisible barrier. Everyone else gave chase and came to stand next to the lifeless Ethan 2. At that moment. Ethan was left with a problem – there were two Sophies – one was sad looking at Ethan 2 while the other was smiling at Ethan. He grabs the smiling Sophie, get in a car and drive away. Ethan and Sophie visit the therapist’s office to find it completely empty. Later, we find Ethan and Sophie in bed enjoying each others company. Sophie has to make breakfast for Ethan and tells him that it will be bacon and eggs. This is Ethan knows he has the wrong Sophie. The End.
I am definitely left with more questions which will not be answered. Was Ethan 2 dead? Would Ethan keep the secret and stay with Sophie 2 or would be go back to the vacation house to get the real Sophie back? Does Sophie 2 still have the same memories of Sophie and does she remember the affair Ethan had? When Ethan 2 ran out of the house to escape, did he truly love Sophie or knew what buttons to push so that she would leave with him? Sophie 2 said that she did love Ethan 2 and wanted to stay with him. If that was the case, was she the Sophie that was sad? It was clear at the end that Ethan was behaving more like Ethan 2 which Sophie loved. Perhaps, Sophie at the end was able to love Ethan again after all and make him bacon even though she detest it.
So, those are my thoughts. I definitely recommend this movie as I love simple but effective small movies like this. Give it chance and I’m sure you will like it as well.