ONLY, written and directed by Takashi Doscher (Still, A Fighting Chance) is a modern-day romance set in an apocalypse that threatens to wipe out every woman on Earth. ONLY features Freida Pinto (Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle), Leslie Odom Jr. (One Dollar), Chandler Riggs (A Million Little Things), Jayson Warner Smith (Reckoning), and Tia Hendricks (Queen Sugar).
ONLY follows Will and Eva, a young couple in love. One day, mysterious ash starts to fall from the sky. Will and Eva’s roommate Carolyn comes home and collapses in front of them. They rush her to the hospital where Will discovers that dozens of women are all suffering the same symptoms from the ash… and it’s only women. The disease is spreading rapidly and chaos ensues.
Panicked, Will quarantines Eva in their house. Within weeks Eva is among the last of the uninfected women. Using stolen hazmat suits and yards of plastic wrapped around their furniture, Eva is isolated for over a year. As the government begins to ask uninfected women to come forward to preserve their eggs, Eva panics even more, with the ever-present threat of being discovered. ONLY opens on Day 400 with Eva asking cryptically, “Do you understand now? Do you forgive me?”
The story jumps around, starting at the end, then moving to the first day and days in between. This structure is somewhat standard for apocalypse movies at this point, providing a reference point for the audience to show what’s happening to our “regular people” characters.
Luckily, ONLY holds the viewer’s interest at every point in its timeline. In the beginning, as the ash falls from the sky, and Will and Eva watch news reports detailing the events. As time goes on, things grow more and more extreme, leading to several boiling point moments that let both actors show their talents.
The writing does a remarkable job of presenting each person’s feelings about the situation with equal weight. The characters are all very well-written; even the most deranged characters have reasonable explanations for their behavior. The story rarely feels mushy, instead, it’s realistic and charming. The authenticity of the relationship is a combination of good acting, writing, direction, blocking, and cinematography, all of which the movie does excellently.
ONLY doesn’t give us anything way outside the box when it comes to end-of-the-world movies, but instead puts a microscope on Will and Eva’s relationship. It focuses on humanity’s final days as a place to find love and compassion in one another. To have the film focus on one couple’s intense, believable devotion to each other feels genuinely fresh. As noxious ash falls around them, Will and Eva find a place where their love is pushed to its farthest boundaries.