Low budget patriarchal sci-fi film “Only” has a good premise but suffers from a mediocre execution. This dystopian tale of a mysterious airborne pathogen that’s killing the world’s women is part “A Handmaid’s Tale” and part Millennial relationship drama. It’s low key and dull, and although it feels as if the film’s heart is in the right place, it isn’t empowering to women.
Writer / director Takashi Doscher proves he can craft a good story, but he just can’t grasp the storytelling aspect. The film moves at a snail’s pace as the camera follows the sad fate of Eva (Freida Pinto) and Will (Leslie Odom Jr.), a normal couple that is obviously supposed to feel universal, but they come across as annoying. These aren’t likeable characters, and it’s hard to want to root for them. Will is overprotective and overbearing, and Eva seems ungrateful. It’s a cycle that neither can snap out of.
This is one of those stories that’s guaranteed to elicit strong reactions, and one that will likely be split along gender lines. The competing themes of oppression, liberation, manhood and feminity, could (and should) be powerful but here, there’s so much wasted potential. Will has built a prison for Eva, keeping her captive all under the guise of protecting her. His desire to safeguard his wife from certain death goes too far, and when Eva decides to assert her independence, the story picks up steam.
It’s worth applauding the deeper meanings at play, such as a woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body, but it’s a shame it wasn’t the centerpiece of a more engaging film.