Following the streaming success of Daisy Jones & The Six, New York Times bestselling author Taylor Jenkins Reid sees another novel get a visual adaptation in the film One True Loves. Andy Fickman directs the film from a script by Taylor Jenkins Reid and her husband, Alex Jenkins Reid.
Emma (Phillipa Soo) and Jesse (Luke Bracey) live an idyllic life together until Jesse disappears in a tragic helicopter crash on their first wedding anniversary. Emma finds happiness again four years later and is about to marry her best friend, Sam (Simu Liu). However, Jesse resurfaces, turning her world upside down and leaving her torn between two passionate loves.
The film begins by introducing us to Emma, Jesse, and Sam as teens. It’s clear that Emma has a crush on Jesse, and Sam is stuck in the friend zone with Emma. The creative team then shows Emma and Sam as adults at their engagement party, with Emma receiving a phone call that Jesse is alive. We then get a montage of Jesse and Sam falling in love and their eventual marriage.
I found this creative choice quite bold, and since I haven’t read the source material, I don’t know if the book follows a non-linear story. Thankfully this approach only lasts for the first fifteen minutes of the movie before taking the traditional linear approach. The cast in the film pulled me in, and the story picks up when Jesse returns. I commend the filmmakers for avoiding an angle where Jesse uses physical attributes to get back with Emma. Luke Bracey sells the material and never turns Jesse into a tool.
I wasn’t familiar with Phillipa Soo’s work, which allowed me to tap into her storyline more. The screenwriters portray the angle of Emma being in love with two men organically. In your 20s, you may find certain traits endearing in a mate you will not find charming 45 years from now, etc.
As you mature, you may find different traits in a mate. It’s the angle the script gives Emma, and actress Soo gives off an endearing vibe about who she was and who she’s destined to be. Finally, we have Simu Liu as the new love, and I felt profound emotions for his character.
Liu broke onto the scene with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, so seeing him in a non-action role was a pleasure. Liu never turns Sam into a toxic nice guy or a simp. Instead, he wants to see Emma happy, even at his own expense.
One True Loves knows precisely what kind of film it is and what demographic will enjoy it. My gripes with the film are minor such as Jesse’s survival story, which appears implausible. I also wouldn’t have minded more fleshing out of the story as Emma heads to her final choice.
Despite that, One True Loves has its heart in the right place and is worth watching.
Final Grade: B-
ONE TRUE LOVES in theaters on April 7, 2023, on digital on April 14th, and on Demand on April 28th.
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