I Love You Both (2016)
★★ / ★★★★
Sibling comedy “I Love You Both” is a great annoyance in the beginning because it does not seem to know what it is about. Instead of honing in on what it wishes to say about the special relationship between twins, the screenplay by Doug Archibald and Kristin Archibald, also the central protagonists in the story, gets mired in introducing colorful but stereotypical characters who serve merely as punchlines rather than believable people who have roles in shaping the inner circle of Donny and Krystal.
Until about halfway though, I thought it was about twenty-somethings who feel unhappy about where they are in life and so they attempt to fill the void by getting into a relationship—the twist being that the twins happen to fall for the same nice guy named Andy (Lucas Neff). This bizarre situation, however absurd in reality, is ripe with potentially funny, amusing, cliché moments. Certainly mainstream comedies would have milked it until the last fifteen minutes in which characters must then reconcile so audiences walk away feeling good about themselves. I enjoyed that the material is unafraid to meander, to touch upon unexpected rhythms, to allow a bit of soul-searching for its characters because Donny and Krystal are fully aware that certain lines should not be crossed.
Most effective moments involve one of the twins choosing to make a sacrifice, appropriate because the heart of the film is the love between siblings. One is more fragile than the other—and perhaps with good reason. Although the performers usually come up short in delivering subtleties required for dramatic, deeply personal moments, the camera dares to remain still and capture the hurt one feels for having to walk away from a situation even though he or she feels that exploring it might be a good avenue to experience. I admired that certain strands are left somewhat unresolved which is a lot like life.
Unfortunately, such highs are often followed by forceful attempts at humor—which usually involves co-workers who talk incessantly without much of value to say or do. These should have been left in the editing room because such scenes establish too much of a pattern. Comedies do not necessarily have to be funny every other scene so long as laughs, when front and center, are big and memorable. It gives the impression that the material is reluctant to allow the audience to absorb the various impacts or implications of certain characters’ decisions.
Directed by Doug Archibald, “I Love You Both” is a passable for a first-time filmmaker, but it is not a work for everyone. For instance, the characters are dominated by sadness and self-pity, even though they have no reason to be miserable most of the time, and so casual viewers may (understandably) ask, “What’s the point? Who cares about these people? What have they got to whine about?” Now that Archibald has got this story out of his system, I can’t help but wonder what else he’s got.