Director: Jonathan Albert Murphy
Screenplay: Jonathan Albert Murphy
Starring: Melissa Woodbridge, Simon Slater, Dan March
Country: UK
Running Time: 79 mins
Year: 2022
BBFC Certificate: TBC

My One and Only is the English language feature debut of writer-director Jonathan Albert Murphy based on a BBC radio play by Dawn King. Fascinatingly, Murphy previously made a Portuguese language feature titled Laura, inspired by the same source material. By the time My One and Only concludes, it is clear why Murphy saw sufficient promise in King’s premise to adapt it twice; dealing with obsession and isolation, the film takes several unexpected turns and builds to a satisfying conclusion. For his second attempt, however, Murphy hasn’t found the most effective way to start the story.

The main character is Laura, a single woman struggling to get over an affair with Ben, a married man. As the film opens, Laura is waking up after a drunken night out. She receives a call from a man called Noah, who claims they met in a nightclub, although Laura doesn’t remember him. Still focused on Ben she politely tries to tell Noah she isn’t interested, but Noah won’t take no for an answer. He calls her at work repeatedly and tries to send flowers. Later he takes to loitering outside her house. This kind of narrative is hardly new, and the early scenes feel very familiar.

Yet the film does a good job of gradually escalating Noah’s intrusion into Laura’s life. And in the second half, the script adds two interesting developments. Firstly, pursuing her relationship with Ben, Laura has allowed her friendships to wither. As she becomes more worried about Noah she has no one but Ben to turn to. Secondly, it is clear Ben – now a new father with his wife – considers their affair at an end, provoking him to compare Laura’s behaviour with Noah’s. The film is also very good at using modern technology to build suspense – text conversations are cleverly incorporated on screen, and the conclusion featuring a live video stream is brilliantly done.

As Laura, Melissa Woodbridge is excellent playing a complicated and conflicted character. Simon Slater is also strong as Ben, a slightly pompous doctor who doesn’t seem willing to accept responsibility for his role in the affair. Dan March is effectively creepy as Noah, although he doesn’t get much else to do. Beyond his obsession with Laura, there isn’t much to Noah as a person. Until the final moments, we don’t get a sense of his life before, something that begins with the filmmakers’ odd decision not to show Laura and Noah’s first encounter. From the plot synopsis of the Portuguese version, it doesn’t sound like this was previously an issue – it’s explained that Laura meets Noah on an internet date intended to make Ben jealous. In the UK version, we only ever get Noah’s spoken version of events, leaving a sense of ambiguity (did it happen like he said?) that the film never resolves.

Despite a slow, somewhat uncertain start My One and Only is well worth persevering with. Technically it is very impressive, particularly Hugo Takeuchi’s shallow-focus cinematography and Simon Slater’s score.

Review by Jim Whalley

My One and Only
3.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

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