Denise DePass & Victoria Minkoff
Polly Shannon, Russell Yuen, Larry Day, Benz Antoine, Vanessa Matsui, Josh Kimmel, Linlyn Lue, Jon-Paul Khouri, Natacha Noel, Emma Stevens
There is one moment in life, a single moment, that alters the universe unlike any other moment - the birth of a child.
Think about it. What other moment in all of life's experiences can so completely change the course of one's human experience?
When a child is born, we experience virtually every human emotion there is experience from incomprehensible joy to fear to anxiety to love and the list simply goes on and on and on...
When birth goes awry, either through nature or intention or accident or simple tragedy, our lives are forever altered by this little tiny speck of a life that we never really ever knew but, somehow, it had already become part of our soul. If you've ever experienced the loss of a child, then you undoubtedly understand what I mean.
In a mere 15 minutes, director D.J. Matrundola and co-writers Denise DePass and Victoria Minkoff weave their way through the lives of birth and life, love and grief by following a group of seemingly ordinary people whose lives are forever connected in ways they will never completely comprehend.
Lucy (Vanessa Matsui) goes into labor while completely blitzed at a neighborhood pub where a good-hearted bar patron (Jon-Paul Khouri) gets her to the hospital and, in all likelihood, saves her life and the life of her baby. It's never completely clear whether or not that's a good thing.
In what appears to be the lightest scene in One Love, Olivia (Polly Shannon) and Jeff (Josh Kimmel) are playfully filming themselves immediately prior to the birth of their first child together. The two appear to be happy, in love and very, very excited about parenthood.
On the other hand, Alicia (Natacha Noel) and her partner Malcolm (Benz Antoine) have been trying for quite some time to have a baby and have arrived at the hospital, finally, to take home the baby they have adopted.
Finally, Eric (Russell Yuen) is in the ER with a broken nose when his pregnant wife (Linlyn Lue) finds herself in trouble in the hospital's restroom.
Four different sets of lives. Four different experiences unfolding.
Child birth is a universal experience. Where there is separation and hatred, child birth so often unites us back into one common village. Yet, just as child birth can bring us together, so too can a traumatic birth experience completely rip us apart. The beauty, perhaps the master stroke, of One Love is that in the short span of 15 minutes these people and their experiences begin to matter just enough that we, the audience, find ourselves wanting more, wanting to get to know these people and, more importantly, wanting to find out what happens next.
That's child birth. We want the happy ending.
Yet, the simple reality is that there's not always a happy ending. If birth is a fairy tale, then it's more apt to be a Grimm's Fairy Tale with a twisted morality and unjust ending. Life, after all, isn't fair and sometimes the unfit mother gets the really beautiful, healthy child while the perfect parent is left weeping in the corner grieving and angry and bitter and screaming out "WHY?"
One Love does try to accomplish a lot in its scant 15-minute run time, but Matrundola wisely avoids turning the film into a morality play. Instead, simply and honestly, One Love is simply the story of four sets of people at what may very well be the defining moment of their lives.
The film could only work if, in their brief time onscreen, the actors convince us of their stories and this occurs exceedingly well across the board with special kudos going to Josh Kimmel and Polly Shannon for their ability to beautifully and heartbreakingly capture how abruptly the joy of birth can change. Similarly, Vanessa Matsui avoids caricature in capturing the truth of an extremely reluctant mother while Jon-Paul Khouri believably plays the man who tries to help her out anyway.
John Ashmore's camera work is consistently strong, selling the multi-layered storytelling quite nicely without ever crossing the line into melodramatic imagery, while remaining tech credits are solid throughout.
For more information on One Love, visit the film's website at the link posted at the beginning of this review.