ONLY YOU draws you in like a fly to a honey pot; gorgeous and sweet at the start. The story is a modern-day romance, that descends into painful heartache and bitterly equal feuding. Harry Wootliff expertly crafts her story about two soulmates blissfully collapsing into each other’s lives, until the relationship progresses and the strain of their childbirth attempts begins to take its toll on the pair in this grippingly moving tale.
Set in the heart of Glasgow on New Year’s Eve, Elena (played by the outstanding Laia Costa) is surrounded by friends and celebrating the season, yet bails out after feeling her singleness is a glaring beacon around so many happy couples. She storms off after squabbling over who hailed a taxi, only to find herself sharing said ride with Jake (Josh O’Connor). After a sensual night together, we observe them carving out their lives, without the fumbling complexity that so many films fall victim to. The only hitch? There’s almost a decade between the pair, which is initially of no consequence to the love-struck pair as Jake cares not that his beloved is older, but the more painful reality of this seeps out as the story progresses.
There is something so magically wonderful about the pair that it’s almost impossible to quantify or describe in eloquent terms. Their partnership is one of unity, devotion – but so importantly: happiness. Those glittery first months are so wonderful and remain at their relationship’s core despite frequent clashes between Jake’s idealism and Elena’s realism. But this also comes from the incredible performances of Costa (who is breathtaking in VICTORIA), as she captures Elena’s symbiotic balance of strength and vulnerability. O’Connor explores the writhing emotions of anger, frustration and upset that also brings male fragility to the screen. This is so crucial during scenes in their attempts to have a baby, which is a hideously physical toll on a woman but also like causes so much mental suffering in both of these partners.
“…the incredible performances of Costa (who is breathtaking in VICTORIA), as she captures Elena’s symbiotic balance of strength and vulnerability. O’Connor explores the writhing emotions of anger, frustration and upset that also brings male fragility to the screen.”
What hits hardest on a personal scale is the moments they are alone, the framing grips onto their profile as they process the thousands of thoughts tumbling through their head at profound moments, yet not a single word is uttered. This is a masterful skill that brings in all the elements of incredible cinematography. From the darkened set of an empty room to heart-pounding music that echoes into the empty spaces around them, the immersion makes every one of their emotions visceral. The film encapsulates Elena’s pain when she’s surrounded by the giddy joy of her friends becoming parents. They chatter about the size of their bumps and grumble about the lack of sleep, yet it is something Elena only dreams of having as this tortured aura shimmers around her, unnoticed.
ONLY YOU is completely and utterly humanising, taking the beautiful flows of a rom-com but narrated in a way that doesn’t sugar-coat the pains of love and forging a life with another person. It eloquently illustrates the complexities of human nature and draws on our imperfections and embracing individual pains. There is a profound reminder that love isn’t linear, and drives back to the core of life together being about those two people. It is a film that will intoxicate you in a ravishing yet gentle way; Elena and Jake’s pleasure is yours, and their heartache is also yours. It is sexy and fun and nails the juxtaposition of lust and longing. Yet through it all, they are rooting for their survival, and even if suppressed at times; there is so much hope – that it will have you rooting for them too.