The One I Love begins with a simple premise: a young married couple is having problems. The husband (Mark Duplass) cheated on his wife (Elizabeth Moss), and they aren’t communicating or having sex. So they seek the help of a marriage counselor (Ted Danson) who refers them to a charming home with a vacant guesthouse and a pool in what looks to be the mountains of California, where they are to rekindle their love for one another. It starts off well. Sophie and Ethan loosen up a bit– they smoke some pot, have a bottle of wine, have sex. But the next morning, Ethan wakes up on the couch not having remembered it, and he didn’t get faded enough to forget. This is when things get strange.
Sophie does not realize it, but she has slept with a man in the guest house who is not her husband, but who shares the same name as him and looks identical. How can that be? Well, the guest house appears to act as some sort of portal that houses Sophie’s ideal husband, we’ll call him Ethan #2. When Ethan enters the guesthouse there’s a cheerful woman, identical to Sophie, who makes him bacon, something his wife would never do. We’ll call her Sophie #2. It’s freaky and the only clue you get that hints towards them being morphed from other people, or perhaps robots, into “better” versions of Sophie and Ethan, is an audio component Ethan later finds on a computer in the guest house, exhibiting voices being gradually changed to match theirs.
Ethan is freaked out by all of this and would prefer to leave, but Sophie stresses that this is an opportunity, like their therapist was talking about, that they should be open to experiencing. Ethan agrees and they set up rules about going into the guest house: no sex and no staying inside longer than 15 minutes. Sophie breaks both of these rules and she falls for Ethan #2. He is funny, flattering, he can communicate, plus he does crunches and paints portraits of her. Sophie doesn’t realize it again, but when she goes to sleep with Ethan #2, her real husband slips into the guest house and poses as his double, so it is her husband she sleeps with and he is now aware that Sophie has “cheated” on him with his “superior” double. But is Ethan #2 really superior? If Sophie had the opportunity would she chose him over her real husband? This question leads to the climax of the film.
After Ethan begins directly questioning the legitimacy of Sophie #2, the Sophie and Ethan doubles expose themselves to the original couple. For Ethan this is odd, but Sophie acts like a giddy schoolgirl. They have a strange evening together. Sophie and Ethan #2 enjoy themselves much more than Ethan and Sophie #2. Ethan #2 beats Ethan at poker and Sophie #2 confronts Sophie about sleeping with her husband on the night of their arrival. The next morning the couple has had enough of the game. Ethan #2 proposes that Sophie come home with him instead of her real husband. Her real husband interrupts to tell her the rules of the house, that only one couple can leave, which Sophie #2 has divulged to him. Then the Ethans get into a fight, there’s a chase scene and then–BAM–Ethan #2 nails an invisible wall, the boundary of this strange “Twilight Zone” they have been in. At this time both of the Sophies are dressed the same and Ethan grabs who he thinks is his wife and hauls out of the no longer charming vacation home.
This movie is a psychological mind game and questions the stability and strength of relationships. If you could chose, would you choose an improved version or the original, real one?