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April 14, 2023 / VVS Films

Starring: Luke Bracey, Phillipa Soo, Simu Liu, Michaela Conlin

Directed By: Andy Fickman

Emma (Phillipa Soo) and Jesse (Luke Bracey) are living the perfect life together until Jesse disappears in a tragic helicopter crash on their first wedding anniversary. Four years later, Emma has found happiness again and is about to marry her best friend (Simu Liu) when Jesse resurfaces, turning her world upside down and leaving her torn between two great loves.

Written By Darren

Rating 3 out of 5

One True Loves relies on the charm and performances of its lead cast, with the main cast carrying the entire film, even if the editing and screenplay fails to make this romance the soul searching, dramatic experience it strives to be.

While the genre never offers up too much new when it comes to story direction, I find the romance genre a true comfort genre as you know what to expect from it. Largely, it is the stars of the films that make or break them, as the stories never fail to deliver the grand romantic moments fans of the genre want from it. And with a cast of Philippe Soo, Sony Liu and Luke Bracey, there is not much more you could want in terms of casting. And while the three of them are great, the screenplay does not let Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel fully come to life on screen.

Emma is about to marry her best friend from high school Sam. They are deeply in love, but Emma’s life comes to a halt when her first true love and husband, Jesse, comes back to life four years after his presumed death in a helicopter crash. Faced with two extraordinary loves and men, Emma must grapple with her emotions as she decides which life she wants, knowing that no matter what decision she makes, she is going to break the heart of one man she loves.

There is rich romantic material to this story, with lots of sweet moments that fans of the genre will enjoy. The story has a great tragic hook, with two incredible men and romantic relationships for the audience to get invested in. And while the film is centered around the choice of which man Emma wants to spend the rest of her life with, it’s never a love triangle pitting the two men against each other. Instead, it’s an exploration by a young woman as to who she is in this moment of her life and what she wants for her future, 

acknowledging that she may no longer be the same woman she was when she lost Jesse four years earlier. It’s a mature and modern spin on this story blueprint that we don’t often get in the romance genre, which is nice from the over dramatic “which man is better” story we are accustomed to.

While there is no doubt that Reid is a good novelist, having written many novels such as Daisy Jones & the Six, which is now a hit Amazon Prime Video series, her writing of the screenplay doesn’t work well with the visual art format at all times. Most notably in the film’s first thirty minutes, there are tons of quick jumps in time showing various moments in Emma’s life with Jesse and Sam. While the moments that are being shown are important to set the basis for each of her romantic relationships, the constant jumping prevents the relationships from truly coming to life. It’s frantic, used to mirror Emma’s confusion over the reappearance of Jesse, but for viewers it does feel like whiplash at times, where a more chronological telling of these events would have flowed more naturally and felt less frantic while still laying the foundation of each relationship. Once we get past the time jumps, the screenplay finds its footing, even with some cheesy moments sprinkled throughout, but they are easier to look past as they are what you expect from this type of film.

Though, it is the performances of the lead cast that make this film worth a watch for any fan of the romance genre. Soo is wonderful as Emma, taking the audience through every emotion her character is facing. Her graceful performance plunges you into the middle of Emma’s confusion as she grapples with her life altering news with Jesse’s reemergence, allowing you to feel every heartbreak and moment of joy as she tries to decide which man she wants to spend the rest of her life with. Her romantic chemistry with both Bracey and Liu is exquisite, helping to bring to life two great but distinct relationships, that no matter which man she chooses, you will be happy for one of the relationships and devastated for the other. Bracey has been a romantic lead before, and once again in the role of Jesse he proves himself a worthy lead while unpacking the emotional trauma and confusion of his character coming back from the dead and finding that his wife is no longer waiting for him. But it is Liu who is the standout as Sam, injecting the film with an undeniable joy and passion. There is a magnetic quality to his performance that instantly makes you fall in love with his character, with the best moments of the film being him unpacking his character’s fears to his students ,which is both a hilarious and  beautiful moment. Endearing and radiating warmth from the second he appears on screen, there is a reason why this Canadian actor is taking the world by storm.

While it may be underwhelming at times due to how the story is portrayed as it does not work well with the visual medium of film, there is more than enough here for fans of the romance genre to enjoy. The story has all the right elements for a good romantic drama, but it is the compelling performances of Phillipa Soo, Luke Bracey and Simu Liu that are going to win over viewers and make One True Loves an entertaining watch.

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