Only You

****

Reviewed by: Jane Fae

Only You
"A seriously intelligent script." | Photo: Courtesy of London Film Festival

Only You is a tight-focus, mostly two-hander intimate look at the evolution of a relationship. A chance New Year's Eve encounter, as they are thrown together in the back of a cab, leads to romance between Spanish council worker Elena (Leia Costa) and English PhD student Jake (Josh O’Connor).

From small beginnings, genuine affection and, perhaps, love are quick to grow. The honeymoon period, like all honeymoon periods is sweet in the way that only young love can be sweet. The only issue, seemingly resolved early on, is that Elena began the relationship with a fib, a little white lie, pretending to be 29, rather than her actual age of 35, to cover the fact that she is some nine years Jake's senior. It is a neat inversion, early on subverting audience expectations about age and gender roles.

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And then they decide to get pregnant. Or perhaps Jake decides. To begin, at least, he is rather more enthusiastic about the idea than Elena. Those experienced in the ways of relationships might raise an eyebrow at this point: too much, too soon? But their first attempt at it is drawn in a way that cinema rarely does - in expectation and love and wonder at the endeavour on which they are embarking - and so Elena gets with the programme, even, as early attempts prove unsuccessful, outbids Jake in the eagerness stakes.

So to their first tiff. The first crack in the facade of lovey-doveyness. And slowly the mood shifts from sparkle and romance to matter-of-fact and the realities of medical intervention.

Along the way, the dialogue grows not so much darker as greyer and, here and there, filled with hints of discord. Will they, won't they make it together to the end? The $64,000 question of every romantic drama. But here the journey is every bit as much worth following as the destiny is worth arriving at.

The sex too is important, laced with subtlety and mood and closely shadowing the state of the relationship between the couple: excited, passionate at the start; tender in the middle and, as things start to break apart, as much a channel through which to express anger, bitterness, as love.

In the spotlight, not just the relationship between Jake and Elena but the entire soul-destroying, painful, in every way, process of attempting to have a child when you are past your most fertile years and everywhere you look, friends, family, strangers, pregnancy and young children are ubiquitous. Jake and Elena resort to IVF which, despite the smiling faces of the helpful NHS staff is brutal, not just for the constant focus and effort involved, but for the destruction to self-esteem it wreaks.

For failing to get pregnant, increasingly, is not just physical failure for Elena, as much as denial of every single thing she believed herself to be: her hopes, her dreams, her very essence.

A seriously intelligent script from writer and director Harry Wootliff, whose debut short film Nits was BAFTA nominated and selected for Cannes Director's Fortnight. Clever, hand-held camerawork, which succeeds in the unlikely task of making Glasgow parks and locations appear romantic. And a subtle, unobtrusive soundtrack, with, topping the bill an Elvis Costello classic, I Want You, from his 1986 Blood & Chocolate album, to which they dance when first they meet.

And yes, near flawless acting from both Costa and O'Connor. The supporting cast contribute, too but with so much on screen time for the lead pair, it is difficult, unfair even to try and single out any others.

A grown-up film about the complexities of a grown-up relationship.

Reviewed on: 18 Jul 2019
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Only You packshot
A couple who fall in love at first sight face problems when they try to conceive.

Director: Harry Wootliff

Writer: Harry Wootliff, Harry Wootliff, Matthieu de Braconier

Starring: Laia Costa, Josh O'Connor, Stuart Martin, Lisa McGrillis, Peter Wight, Robin Laing, Orion Lee, Kirsty Strain, Bobby Rainsbury, Daniel Campbell, Tam Dean Burn, Gregor Firth, Anita Vettesse, Joe Cassidy, James McElvar

Year: 2018

Runtime: 119 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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