Director Charlie McDowell’s romantic comedy-cum-supernatural thriller about marriage woes, alter egos and cosmic occurrences contains bits and pieces of a good idea, all of which are shattered by a preposterous coda. Thirty-something married couple Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elizabeth Moss) are struggling to regain intimacy after Ethan strayed into an affair. Their scheming therapist (Ted Danson) recommends they take a romantic weekend to rekindle the flame. Once at the bucolic cottage they find a guesthouse inhabited by doppelgangers (impostors?) that, predictably, incarnate fantasy versions their real-life partner. Sophie’s “new” Ethan paints and gives massages. Ethan’s “new” Sophie makes him “forbidden” bacon and has bedroom eyes. While the real duo insist they want out of what seems like a hash-induced Twilight Zone, curiosity soon kills that cat. Suddenly, “real” Ethan is jealous of a man who is “20 percent cooler and 20 percent more emotionally involved.” This early conceit is sweet enough, comically probing the weight of marriage monotony and monogamy and how it affects the sexes in different ways.
But McDowell and scriptwriter Justin Lader eventually tire of that gimmick and instead lurch wildly into the deep-end supernatural. A modest film nourished from the start by romantic comedy values suddenly and awkwardly turns into something altogether sinister. Lust, we discover in a kicker, can influence what we want and whom we pick. McDowell would have done better selecting a genre, because this disjointed “dramedy” doesn’t do either romance or fantasy much credit.