No Love Lost over “The One I Love”

This movie clearly demonstrates that the Rotten Tomatoes/Metacritic system is broken.

This is the worst science fiction film since “Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2.” This movie makes “Howard the Duck” look like “Blade Runner.”

“The One I Love”? More like “The One I Shove” in front of a bus.

It’s an abysmal movie. Don’t see it. Unfortunately, I did, so I’m going to very specifically and carefully explain how and where it sucked the most balls.

Premise: a couple is having marriage problems, so their counselor sends them on a couples retreat. There are two houses on the property, and when they enter the guesthouse one at a time, they each discover an idealized version of their spouse.

Eventually, they realize that the entities of the guesthouse are not their actual spouses, and, understandably, freak out and leave. But the Idiot Logic takes place when they, predictably, decide to go back for no reason other than to allow the movie to continue.

This film has many devastating problems. Perhaps its biggest is that the movie is so… obvious. From the progression of the dramatic story beats to the flow of the dialogue in each scene to the movie’s attempt at cerebral relationship commentary lite, it’s practically dutiful in its slow execution of monotonous drudgery.

At the ground level, the movie’s largest failing and most aggravating feature is the lack of a script. Each scene is painfully, loosely-structure, obvious improvisation.

The actors were clearly given simple objectives they’d have to reach, but instead of it seeming natural, the actors fill the verbal space with meaningless chatter until they thud awkwardly into obvious plot points explained weirdly aloud.

If the couple’s personality traits weren’t already offensive, it only gets worse when you realize they have nothing of value whatsoever to say.

Mostly, the film pretends coyly like it’s not science fiction. In fact, even calling it “science fiction” is giving it far too much credit for the petulant, small-minded ideas it has the gall to expound. 

When a character has the poor taste and lack of restrain to exclaim, “This is just like ‘The Twilight Zone!'” it spelled a death note for the movie at large.

For most of the plot’s slow burn, it’s not clear what the changeling spouses are exactly, or where they come from. Normally that would be fine, but some mysteries are better left better written unsolved.

Since the real versions of the spouses never seem to interact with their own doppelganger selves, it seems at first that the doppelgangers are a “direct reflection” of what each character wants in their spouse.

The movie hints at this Schrodinger’s Cat in “Solaris” meets “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” sort of commentary. (Or, I don’t know, “Garden State” if you were born after 1993). The doppelgangers seem like the “ideal” version of the character they mimic, but they’re really not– they’re what their spouse wishes they were.

But, nope! “Screw that,” the movie says. Eventually it’s established that the changeling spouses are independent and autonomous entities, not psychic projections or emotional manifestations of the couple’s desires or relationship issues.

Not even a little.

Instead, the real husband discovers that “he” was calling his friends and family, asking about personal information about himself! Great Scott! The plot thickens!

But if they’re “real,” then how do they teleport or turn invisible or whatever?

“Blow me,” the movie seems to say.

And when the goofy “Peter and the Wolf” soundtrack kicks in for dramatic effect, it becomes thoroughly impossible to take anything that happens seriously.

The real narrative swill is about three-quarters of the way through the film. The changeling wife comes charging in out of nowhere to Exposition Dump all over the real husband’s face with unclear information about the rules of taking over someone’s life while being a doppelganger and some manner of elaborate conspiracy along with meticulous rules of engagement.

“There are no rules!” the movie says, swinging its gentiles in the air. “By the way, here are the rules.”

In the final act, the changeling husband tries running off the property and collides with some kind of magic forcefield and dies. Not like a “Cabin in the Woods” forcefield that’s established beforehand and playing into the plot. Just a confusing plot device born of pure stupidity and laziness. (“Oh no! The script is due TOMORROW?!”)

Then the hackneyed ending is so deadened and lame, it manages to be both gutless and somehow meaningless.

It left me with a pile of questions, the chief of which was, “Why in God’s name did I watch this shriveled refuse-stain excuse for a movie?”

“The One I Love?” More like “The One I Loathe,” ammiright?





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