One True Loves – movie review

Think old-fashioned midday movie or a Mills and Boon novel and your head will be in the right space for One True Loves.

Since school days, Sam (Simu Liu) has been into Emma (Phillipa Soo). But Emma always had the hots for swimming champion Jesse (Luke Bracey). As it turned out, Jesse swept Emma off her feet. They fell deeply in love, travelled the world together and got married. There’s your happily ever after. Well … not quite.

Work sees Jesse head off to Alaska alone, promising to celebrate their wedding anniversary when he returns home. Instead, Emma gets a dreadful phone call to say the Jesse is missing, presumed dead, after a helicopter crash in the Pacific Ocean. Emma is totally lost – not knowing what to do next. So her older sister Marie (Michaela Conlin) takes her back to their picturesque hometown in Massachusetts. Marie and their parents operate a book store there, something Emma never wanted to be a part of. But now things are different. The combination of the local environment and the familiarity of the bookshop brings Emma a level of solace.

Then, unexpectedly, Emma bumps into Sam again. He’s now the high school music teacher. A spark ignites and, in time, the pair are engaged to be married. But Emma receives a call that rocks everyone. Four years after he disappeared, Jesse has been found on a deserted island. Suddenly, Emma must try to navigate what the future looks like loving two men, with those feelings reciprocated by each of them. Awkward!

One True Loves was written by Taylor Jenkins Reid and her husband, Alex Jenkins Reid, based on Taylor’s book of the same name. Both writers have television backgrounds and it shows. In fact, the movie looks like it has been written for TV.  It’s schmaltzy, features a bunch of good looking, nice people and feels heavily manufactured to solicit audience sympathy. Given those restraints, obtaining performances that had a ring of truth was always going to be a challenge.

Mind you, I did like the moral quandary that opened itself up to being explored further. So, too, the setting. The scenery is beautiful, which cinematographer Greg Gardiner has captured well. Directed by Andy Fickman, One True Loves plays it by the book.

Alex First

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