Cosmic inspirations

Mark Duplass, Justin Lader, Charlie McDowell and Elisabeth Moss on the red carpet for The One I Love

by Anne-Katrin Titze

The One I Love director Charlie McDowell with Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass in New York: "So we met at a party and it was magic."
The One I Love director Charlie McDowell with Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass in New York: "So we met at a party and it was magic." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

RADiUS-TWC co-president Jason Janego presented a special screening of The One I Love with director Charlie McDowell, Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss, screenwriter Justin Lader and producer Mel Eslyn at New York's Crosby Street Hotel. Mary Steenburgen, Imogen Poots, The Book Of Mormon's Rory O'Malley, Nobody Walks director Ry Russo-Young, Obvious Child's Jake Lacy, Michael Mailer, Stephanie LaCava, Tara Subkoff, Between Bedford director Lenay Dunn, Jeremy Kost and Nanette Lepore were among those attending on a beautiful Tuesday night in August.

In a new and original way, Charlie McDowell's debut feature, The One I Love, written by Justin Lader, tackles questions of identity, what it means to "know" somebody, and why beachy hair is just so darn attractive on Mark Duplass.

Screenwriter Justin Lader on The One I Love: "We talked a lot about Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, a Charlie Kaufman version of it."
Screenwriter Justin Lader on The One I Love: "We talked a lot about Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, a Charlie Kaufman version of it."

Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

"So we met at a party and it was magic," a voice-over soon to be connected to a face says. Another voice and face join in to explain to a couples therapist (Ted Danson) how it all began. Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass as Sophie and Ethan, follow their therapist's suggestion to go away for the weekend together to rekindle their relationship. The chamber piece unravels slowly, with "cosmic aberrations" aiding to explore new dimensions of long term love.

Part milkmaid, part Elizabeth Taylor in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, the costumes reflect a male fantasy that lines up perfectly in wish fulfillment - a woman dressed like that might even serve you bacon for breakfast. Bree Daniel, the name of Jane Fonda's character in Klute, and that of the costume designer listed in the credits for The One I Love, is none other than a pseudonym for Rooney Mara. The fact that Mara knows good storytelling through garments does not come as a surprise to me. In a conversation I had with director David Lowery on Ain't Them Bodies Saints, he told me how much Mara influenced the costume choices for her character Ruth.

The red carpet conversations were conducted in secret code.

Anne-Katrin Titze: Have you seen John Frankenheimer's Seconds?

Justin Lader: I have not seen it.

AKT: That gets rid of my question if Frankenheimer had any impact on your script.

JL: There's a lot of things that had impact. I'm trying to think if someone's asked me that before. There's one movie that I haven't seen. I'm not sure that's it.

Mary Steenburgen with her son, Charlie McDowell: "No, that was a painting that actually my mom had…"
Mary Steenburgen with her son, Charlie McDowell: "No, that was a painting that actually my mom had…" Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

AKT: Rock Hudson plays a man who chooses a second life. And there are surprises not to be given away. What about The Stepford Wives?

JL: Yes. For me personally, there were a lot of movies. Charlie [McDowell] and I talked a lot about the Twilight Zone [TV shows]. We talked a lot about Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, a Charlie Kaufman version of it. There are a lot of influences that percolated my brain.

AKT: Did you ever have a run in with [another one]?

JL: Aaaaaah, I have not. No, I have not.

Anne-Katrin Titze: Is there a mystery behind the painting, the portrait of the Errol Flynn look-alike, placed next to the door in the guest house in your movie?

Charlie McDowell: So funny. People ask about that. No, that was a painting that actually my mom [Mary Steenburgen] had and I took it and put it in just because I liked the painting. A lot of people asked where she got it and wanted to buy it from her. She just got it at a flea market in London, I think.

AKT: Maybe [another one] of it will show up one day. I asked your screenwriter, now I'll ask you, if you know Seconds by John Frankenheimer?

Mark Duplass on his The One I Love hair: "Yeah. I like going beachy. I think beachy is cooler."
Mark Duplass on his The One I Love hair: "Yeah. I like going beachy. I think beachy is cooler." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

CMcD: No. Is it similar?

AKT: To an extent.

CMcD: Oh it is?

AKT: Did you ever have an encounter with [another one]?

CMcD: I've never had a specific encounter with [another one]. I've had people say - you know, you always get these text messages, like - wait, are you at the grocery store on whatever? And then they say, oh my god, your doppelgänger is here. I think we've all had that kind of situation but I have yet to meet him. I hope to meet him one day.

AKT: Maybe tonight!

CMcD: Yes, he'll stay to watch the movie and I'll go outside.

Anne-Katrin Titze: Can you tell me about your relationship to bacon?

Mark Duplass: I personally have a love-hate relationship with bacon. It's very delicious. It's not very healthy for me. I want to live a nice long life. Not clog arteries. And I occasionally eat turkey bacon.

Co-President of RADiUS-TWC Jason Janego with Justin Lader, Charlie McDowell, Elisabeth Moss, Mark Duplass and Mel Eslyn on The One I Love red carpet.
Co-President of RADiUS-TWC Jason Janego with Justin Lader, Charlie McDowell, Elisabeth Moss, Mark Duplass and Mel Eslyn on The One I Love red carpet. Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

AKT: And what about beachy hair?

MD: Beachy hair? How would you describe my hair right now?

AKT: Quite beachy.

MD: Yeah. I like going beachy. I think beachy is cooler.

Some of the answers to the central mystery can be found in the well thought through costumes. Elisabeth Moss, with a big smile on her face, did not want to give any comment about the lacy slips and creamy cardigans when we talked on the red carpet.

Anne-Katrin Titze: Did you ever have a run in with [another one]?

Elisabeth Moss: No.

AKT: Did you ever think about how it would be?

EM: No.

Elisabeth Moss on the Russian dolls in The One I Love: "We unwrapped them and started playing with them."
Elisabeth Moss on the Russian dolls in The One I Love: "We unwrapped them and started playing with them." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

AKT: Russian dolls play a part in the film.

EM: Yeah.

AKT: Do you relate to them? Did you have those dolls?

EM: No. They were in the house. We unwrapped them and started playing with them.

AKT: How would you describe what you are wearing as, let's call it number two? Milkmaid in lace?

EM, with a big smile: I'm not talking about it.

Jason Janego introduced the screening in the theater: I want to thank my team at RADiUS. I want to thank our parent, The Weinstein Company, Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein, David Glasser. I want to thank the Crosby Hotel for putting this together for us. I want to thank the incomparable Peggy Siegal who is on her way to the airport now. This is a particularly special film for us at RADiUS. We have a little bit of a history working with Mark Duplass, one of our most favorite people to work with and actually also hang out with. When you work on a lot of movies like we do, it's very rare that you get to work with a group of people you actually really like. It was a real pleasure to work with them. My partner Tom [Quinn] and I first saw this film at Sundance this year and we fell in love with it. I want to bring up the amazing director of this film, Charlie McDowell.

Obvious Child's Jake Lacy
Obvious Child's Jake Lacy Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Charlie McDowell: We premiered this film at Sundance in January and since on to other festivals and now we're here at the New York premiere and it's actually going to come out in theaters. It's such a crazy kind of surreal experience. This movie is my first feature that I directed and it couldn't have been a more special process of making this movie. I really want to thank RADiUS for giving us the opportunity to release the film. In indie films, there's the distributor and you got to battle with them and you got to get your voice heard and with these guys - they really want to protect your film and the art of the film and to do the business side as well. Now I want to bring up some of my collaborators - Justin Lader, our writer, Mel Eslyn, our producer and the stars Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass.

The after party was held at Ken & Cook on Kenmare Street.

The One I Love opens in the US on August 22.

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