Only You

 

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A striking British debut about a couple confronted by an unexpected problem.

 
Only You

Laia Costa

 

This British film is very much a story in two parts in both of which the focus is on a couple living in Glasgow. Despite the setting, Elena (Laia Costa) is Spanish but, now thirty-five, she has already been in the city for some ten years before she encounters Jake (Josh O'Connor) who is nearly ten years her junior. Regardless of this age gap, there is a real attraction and, this being a modern-day love story, the relationship starts with a night together which they find to be fun and then develops from there into a fully-fledged romance as they come to regard themselves as soul mates.

 

That is the first section of Harry Wootliff's film. It introduces subsidiary characters too, but they remain background figures since everything centres on the couple. The development of their relationship is nimbly charted and beautifully played. O'Connor already known for God's Own Country is well cast and works perfectly with Costa whose Elena is even more of a pivotal figure than Jake. In that connection, it is worth pointing out that Wootliff, who wrote the screenplay in addition to directing and sharing the credit for the story with Matthieu de Braconier, is not as the Christian name suggests a man but a woman. That means that the main applause here goes to females for Laia Costa, who was so good in Sebastian Schipper's Victoria in 2015, is a positive revelation here.

 

If you don't know where Only You is heading, the second part will come as a surprise. Up to that point, it has come across as a believable contemporary love story of a relatively standard kind but one with particular appeal to viewers of an age to identify closely with the central characters. Now, however, it tackles an issue much more threatening to the couple's relationship than any age difference: their seeming inability to conceive a child which leads them to seek advice and to look to IVF to solve the problem. The strains that this brings about are no less persuasive than what has gone before. The fact that Elena has friends who are having babies exacerbates the situation and increasingly Elena comes to feel that her life will not be fulfilled without a child (when a friend declares that there are worse things than not having kids she resents the remark).

 

This development takes Only You into unfamiliar territory which can be considered brave and admirable but it does put the film on what is an increasingly downbeat path. To some extent, this is inevitable given the subject matter, but the fact that Only You lasts for almost two hours underlines this feeling even more. It also feels as though Wootliff had problems in deciding how to conclude the film because two scenes towards the end take on a fictional tone in contrast to all that has come before. Nevertheless, there is much here to appreciate including an arresting use of music to build sequences (this can involve contrasted vocal pieces which you would not expect to work but which do). However, what demands attention most of all is the acting: O'Connor is building a reputation, while Costa's name must immediately be added to the list of outstanding younger actresses.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Laia Costa, Josh O'Connor, Lisa McGrillis, Stuart Martin, Daniel Campbell, Peter Wight, Orion Lee, Bobby Rainsbury, Tam Dean Burns, Isabelle Barth, Gregor Firth, Natalie Arle-Toyne, Robbie Hutton.

 

Dir Harry Wootliff, Pro Rachel Darvagel, Matthieu de Braconier, Tristan Goligher and Claire Mundell, Screenplay Harry Wootliff, from a story by Harry Wootliff and Matthieu de Braconier, Ph Shabier Kirchner, Pro Des Andy Drummond, Ed Tim Fulford, Music Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch, Costumes Lesley Abernethy.

 

The Bureau/Synchronicity Films/Film i Väst-Curzon Artificial Eye.
118 mins. UK. 2018. Rel: 12 July 2019. Cert. 15.