Director: Harry Wootliff
Writer: Harry Wootliff
Starring: Laia Costa, Josh O’Connor, Natalie Arle-Toyne
After a chance meeting on New Years Eve when waiting for a taxi home between Elena (Costa) and Jake (O’Connor), an initial one-night stand soon turns into a whirlwind relationship. Together they learn what it takes to create an enduring relationship and what sacrifices that requires, as their desire to have one thing that they both desperately crave may be what tears their relationship apart.
Sometimes the simplest of plots can produce the most emotionally affecting films if depicted in the right way, and Only You is such a film; it is a raw and profoundly intimate story of two people that love each other and are completely dedicated to doing all they can to achieve a goal that they both want. In the case of Elena and Jake, that is having a baby, and reproduction is fundamentally the sole reason why humans exist, but yet something that should be the one basic thing that all humans are able to do proves to be a challenge that threatens the very foundations of their relationship. This is then not helped by the fact that all of Elena’s friends are effortlessly having babies.
It is in its delicate observations of what should be the most fundamental and simplest things in life that makes Only you such a wonderfully engaging film. In the grand scheme of things, the two protagonists are only wanting to have what most humans do have and often take for granted, but yet they encounter gruelling and often heart-breaking struggles to achieve this, and in the process the emotional stress threatens to tear their relationship apart.
What makes Only You work so well on an emotional level is that Harry Wootliff strips everything away and leaves us with a film that is equally raw and intimate. We often get long takes and intense close ups of the character’s expressions as they experience what may in the grand scheme of things be very little, but within the context of the narrative and the lives of its two protagonists is a very big deal indeed. The Dialogue itself is often naturalistic and so very relatable, it leaves the audience caring for this couple and wanting them to achieve their goal and stay together. This couple could easily be two friends that we all have; and that is one of the fundamental reasons why Only You works so well, the two characters are very much real people, that exist in the real world and have real problems, and that problem within the individual context of their lives is indeed a big deal on a life changing scale.
The performances are also exceptional; Josh O’Connor (who was equally excellent in the equally raw [and excellent] God’s Own Country is perfect in his role, demonstrating impeccably the naivety that Jake has, but also his fierce commitment and dedication to what he believes in. Meanwhile Laia Costa is equally excellent, demonstrating her character’s emotional vulnerability with just the right amount of subtlety.
What makes Only You work so well is its brutal honesty and rawness, Wootliff strips away all the narrative cliché-ridden gloss that films with this kind of story usually have, and just gives us a raw and intimate depiction of two people that love each other and whose commitment to what they believe is the next step to their ultimate happiness may prove to be what tears them apart. It is a raw and honest tale that is not frightened to remind us all that life is not easy and showing dedication and commitment to an individual that you love can certainly be challenging, and those challenges can feel insurmountable. However, its honest and intimate depiction of these very relatable issues that are part of the human condition make it a viewing experience that will stay with the viewer for a very long time.
An admittedly simple premise, but a film that effectively shows that in seeming simplicity there can be complexity, and its equally raw and intimate examination of this premise (combined with two exceptional performances) make Only You a deeply engaging and unforgettable film.