Katharyn Grant’s new film, in which she stars and directs, does a more than adequate job of recreating the look of the 1970s. The sets are small, and every once in a while we get a dreaded Instagram filter for some exterior scenes, but the movie otherwise grounds itself in a genuine time frame.
Gloria (Grant) is an aspiring singer/performer, reduced to working at a clothing store in nowhere town Altaville. She soon meets Roy (Briel DiCristofaro), a smooth-talking shyster and fellow free spirit, and a romance forms. The story doesn’t waste any time in starting, and viewers can quickly decide if the film works for them or not.
Now Roy is all lies, and that’s what The One Who Loves You really has going for it. Briel’s performance of happy torment as he strings Gloria along is depicted in an honest and humane way, a highlight being the break-up scene between him and Candy Ann Brown’s character Ruby as she tells him what he really is, and the expression of awareness on his face is priceless.
As they fall deeper for one another, you can tell Roy really appreciates Gloria, but that doesn’t stop his wicked scumbag destiny. As her “manager,” Roy gets Gloria a gig at a seedy dive-bar, which does not exactly go as planned. But the emotions don’t really bite as hard as they should at this point in the story. When scenes get extravagant, the production seems to falter.
Blanketed by the golden age of country music, Grant’s film succeeds with its musical numbers. Phil Lee’s performance is especially noteworthy. But that doesn’t save the audience’s focus from unfurling during the anti-climax of Gloria and Roy’s relationship. There isn’t enough sense behind Roy’s decision to leave to make us care when he’s gone. We don’t feel Gloria’s hurt. We feel the hurt of not enough plot.
The music is the highlight of the third act. The rest is rather random, with the filmmakers playing with the passage of time in a way that conflicts with the journey that brought us there. The ending is satisfying, and The One Who Loves You is full of more than enough talent on both sides of the camera. I just feel it’s missing a glue to tie more of it together.