Only You

Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

Only You
dir-scr Harry Wootliff
prd Tristan Goligher, Rachel Dargavel, Matthieu de Braconier, Claire Mundell
with Josh O'Connor, Laia Costa, Peter Wight, Lisa McGrillis, Isabelle Barth, Stuart Martin, Tam Dean Burn, Bobby Rainsbury, Daniel Campbell, Natalie Arle-Toyne, Robbie Hutton, Gregor Firth
release UK 12.Jul.19
18/UK Curzon 1h59

oconnor costa wight
london film fest

Only You
Starting as as sensitive, engaging romance, this Glasgow-set drama shifts into a much more serious issue-based movie as it goes along. It's also in need of some editing, as the length works against its structure, creating a story that wallows in its darker moments. But it's strikingly well acted, and has a refreshingly honest tone that makes it easy to identify with.
On New Year's Eve, 35-year-old Elena (Costa) has a chance encounter with Jake (O'Connor), a nice guy nine years younger than her. Their romance deepens quickly and within about six months they begin talking about starting a family. After all, most of Elena's friends are having babies at the moment. But Elena struggles to get pregnant, which eventually leads to a round of in-vitro fertilisation. Both Elena and Jake are anxious to be parents, and the question is whether they would be happy with each other if they can't have kids.
The film opens with a beautiful depiction of a new romance, giggly and often giddy in the way these two discover each other. This has a meandering, almost improvised pace, making the most of close-up, hand-held camerawork. Then as bigger ideas creep in, there's a clear shift-change into an edgier theme-based story: a couple trying to conceive a child against the odds. The toll this takes on them as a couple grows over the months, bringing wrenching emotional clashes.

O'Connor and Costa beautifully tap into their characters' inner lives to let the audience see what makes them tick. Their rush toward pregnancy may seem sudden, but the factors feel organic, mainly because their connection is so profound. Because of the film's tight focus on them, the side roles seem to exist in another universe entirely. The only ones who become real people are Wight as Jake's sensitive father and McGrillis as Elena's best pal, who's of course expecting a baby.

At two hours and with such an essentially thin plot, the film feels stretched out, dragging in its second half. It remains watchable due to the intimate filmmaking, and also because both O'Connor and Costa make Jake and Elena so relatable. Viewers will be able to experience the dilemma they face on a variety of levels, so it's easy to root for both of them even when they are struggling to make their relationship work. And within the wider implications of the story, the questions the film asks are both provocative and deeply moving.

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality 29.Apr.19

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© 2019 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall