The Evolution of a Relationship
Spanish council worker Elena (Leia Costa) and English PhD student Jake (Josh O’Connor) are thrown together in the back of a cab and this leads to romance between the two characters who come together by chance. However, Elena began the relationship with a fib, she pretended to be 29, rather than her actual age of 35 and she did this to hide the fact that she is some nine years older than Jake. Early on. We get something, early on about age and gender roles.
They decide to get pregnant and Jake is rather more enthusiastic about the idea than Elena. Early attempts prove unsuccessful and then Elena becomes the more eager person resulting in their first spat and the first crack in their relationship. The realities of medical intervention set in and discord enters.
Thee dialogue grows darker as greyer yet their journey is every bit as much worth following. Their sex lives are important and are filled with subtlety and mood that shadowi the state of the relationship. At first they were excited and passionate; then tender in the middle and, as things start to break apart, their sex express anger, bitterness and love.
We see something about the process of attempting to have a child when one is past the most fertile years and everywhere there are friends, family, strangers, pregnancy and young children. Jake and Elena resort to IVF which, despite the smiling faces of the helpful National Health Service staff is brutal, not just for the constant focus and effort involved, but for the destruction to self-esteem it causes. Not becoming pregnant is not just physical failure for Elena, as much as denial of every single thing she believed herself to be: her hopes, her dreams and her essence.
IVF is a rarely discussed topic in cinema, even though millions of people go through it each year and this is what which makes director Harry Wootliff’s debut feature all the more refreshing and relevant.
O’Connor and Costa make us believe whole-heartedly in their relationship. You never question their choices and we enjoy the emotion. When Elena reveals that she’s nearly a decade older than Jake she does so with compassion. Jake doesn’t care, he’s in love. But Elena, older and wiser, knows that love can only carry them so far. As Elena predicted, cracks begin to show in their relationship, and we wonder if their relationship will last.
It’s refreshing that the film is about an older woman and a younger man. Jake is likeable even if he’s a little petulant and fool-hardy. Costa, who has the harder task, brings a heart-wrenching depth to Elena’s feelings of failure and frustration.
The backdrop of Glasgow, captured by Shabier Kirchner’s gorgeous cinematography is beautiful. Wootliff’s script occasionally buckles under the psychological weight of the story, with a cliché now and then but the concept is original.
You might recognize the stars from “God’s Own Country” and “Victoria”—they are representative of the most internationally marketable element of this classy British production. “Only You” brings realism and romanticism to stirring effect that will not be soon forgotten.