THE STORY – After a comet releases a mysterious virus that begins to kill all the women in the world, a young couple hides out in their over-sterilized apartment trying to fight for their lives.
THE CAST – Freida Pinto, Leslie Odom Jr., Jayson Warner Smith & Chandler Riggs
THE TEAM – Takashi Doscher (Director/Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 98 Minutes
By Rebecca Daniel
“Do you understand now? Do you forgive me?” These are the questions that hang over the opening scenes of “Only,” a post-apocalyptic drama starring Freida Pinto and Leslie Odom Jr.
When mysterious ash begins falling from the sky (the Thanos snap strikes again!), an epidemic breaks out killing all of the women in the world. Eva (Pinto) stays alive and healthy with the help of her boyfriend, Will (Odom Jr.), who’s staunchly dedicated to keeping their living space a quarantine zone. Although they’re safe from the virus, the two struggle to keep their relationship afloat.
It’s unclear what’s to be understood and who should be forgiven between the two. There’s an air of mystery as each scene unfolds. How did the pandemic start? Why does it prey on women? How is the couple still alive? Writer/director Takashi Doscher keeps the mystery alive by piecing the film together with a non-linear narrative structure. It all begins after the pandemic fallout. As Eva and Will cope with their new lives in quarantine, layers are pulled back to reveal details of their life before the fallout and what happened to bring the world to chaos.
While watching “Only,” one can’t help but notice distinct similarities between it and “Z for Zachariah” and “Light of My Life” (Casey Affleck’s recent directorial release). The “last humans on earth coping with disaster” is a concept that’s been explored many times, and frankly, it’s been done better. “Only” struggles with sequences of poor pacing and bizarre character choices – you know, the classic horror movie moment where you want to yell through the screen, “Don’t you dare walk through that door!” There are several scenes that left me wondering how characters who survived societal collapse could make such questionable decisions.
The introduction of a villainous father/son bounty hunter team (Jayson Warner Smith and Chandler Riggs) seems unnecessary in a film that already has high stakes. There’s really no need for one-dimensional bad guys with everything else going on in the script. In fact, there are a few plot details that I would have liked to see explored a bit more in terms of the virus and its effects on society instead of a weak villain subplot.
For all of the film’s missteps, it’s the remarkable performances by Pinto and Odom Jr. that keep the storyline engaging. Pinto gives an emotionally raw performance as Eva, a character who feels trapped in her new life of quarantine. She’s powerless at the hands of the global pandemic as the friends and family members closest to her succumb to the illness one by one. Her only escape is an internet chatroom where other women speak of their lives in quarantine. As the chat room numbers begin to dwindle, the harsh reality sets in for Eva: her world starts and stops in the confines of an apartment.
Odom Jr. is equally compelling as Will, a supportive boyfriend who will do anything and everything to keep Eva safe. The two slowly unravel as days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months in their tiny quarantined space. Pinto and Odom Jr. create a genuinely compelling relationship dynamic that leaves the viewer questioning whether Eva is in a safe space or a prison. “Only” isn’t a perfect post-apocalyptic thriller, but it’s a complex relationship drama that will haunt you.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – Great performances by Freida Pinto and Leslie Odom Jr.
THE OSCARS – None