Thursday, August 28, 2014

The One I Love, To Be Takei

To Be Takei
The One I Love

In Charlie McDowell's "The One I Love," from an ingenious script by Justin Lader, not only do you not know what's going to happen from one moment to the next, you don't know what kind of movie you're watching.

It veers from romance to mystery to black comedy to suspense to science fiction, and I found the sensation of the ground shifting under my feet exhilarating. Oh, P.S.: I can't tell you much about the plot, either. Just that married Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elizabeth Moss) - in couples therapy after he cheats on her - take their analyst's (Ted Danson) advice and drive to a weekend country retreat where they have the run of the grounds. What they find in the guest house will shatter their reality and redefine their relationship. "The One I Love" isn't a great film - we'd have to be more emotionally invested in Ethan and Sophie before the exercise plays out, and certain plot points can't withstand morning-after scrutiny -- but what an invigorating and sense-heightening exercise it is. I spent the 90-minute runtime sitting straight up in my seat with my mouth frequently agape.

The "Star Trek" personality George Takei has lived an interesting life - from forced relocation and internment as a boy to the discovery of homosexual feelings to a successful TV and movie career to years in public service to advocacy for gay marriage (alongside his partner of many decades) to a gig announcing for Howard Stern. Having said that, it's been more than adequately documented, and there's little in Jennifer M. Kroot's biodoc "To Be Takei" that you couldn't find on his Wikipedia page. To pad her film to 90 minutes, Kroot gives us way too many clips of Takei's often embarrassing "performances" (as my friend said, "You know he's not an actor"), sanctimonious lectures to groups honoring him, and George and Brad gadding about, luxuriating in his third-tier celebrity. The two truest elements are the mutual antipathy between Takei and William Shatner and the tawdry sight of Takei signing $35-a-pop autographs at an endless stream of conventions while Brad scuttles about stuffing the bills into his fanny pack.

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