Monday, December 1, 2014

Elizabeth Moss Plays A Pothead in Love

Mark Duplass and Elizabeth Moss toking together in The One I Love.
Despite being a fan of Elizabeth Moss's acting (especially when she smokes pot on Mad Men), I didn't see her movie The One I Love in theaters, because it looked like a dreary lets-work-on-our-relationship chick flick. I had no idea how trippy the film would get after the couple's psychologist (Ted Danson) sends them on a retreat and Moss's character Sophie brings along a bag of pot.

After the troubled pair tokes up, other sides of them emerge: his sheds his eyeglasses, exercises more, and wears his hair a little shaggier--and she likes it. Her less "bitchy" alter ego doesn't mind cooking him bacon, wears sexier clothes, and is totally cool with everything he does, or doesn't do.

In an interesting twist, rather than deal with this duplicity in reality, the filmmakers split the characters and their doubles in a Twilight Zone–style scenario, so that when they're seeing their ideal mates, they're actually cheating on their "true" ones. They at first put the strangeness down to a "bad pot and wine night," confirming it was their adulterants that took them out of themselves.

One wonders about the basis for this conceit from writer/producer Justin Lader. Do couples feel like they're in an alternate reality if they get high together? Are they disappointed in life after the buzz wears off? Is there no way to reconcile the two aspects of themselves?

Sophie (Moss) pulls out the pot.
Something Sophie has complained about for three years is her husband Eric's ruining of a magic show by revealing the source of the tricks. She badly needs some magic in her life, and only after Eric can let go of his calculating mind can he project that for her. But when his rational mind takes over, he is only interested in exposing the mystery she would rather explore.

Rather than, "My wife doesn't understand me," married men sometimes tell me, "My wife won't get high with me." It's difficult to depict on film, but the cosmic connection made between two beings whilst high is something that can be beautiful, bonding, and sexy. And it can be hard to come down from that to the more prosaic planet, especially in a world where getting high is denigrated instead of celebrated.

This film could explore some of those nuances, but instead it degrades into a not-so-thrilling thriller, albeit one with an interesting twist at the end.

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