Only Parent Guide
Giving the main female character more say over her own destiny would have made for a more interesting film.
Parent Movie Review
Life is good for Will (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Eva (Freida Pinto). They have just moved in together and are looking forward to the future. Then a comet passes through the atmosphere and releases toxic ash, which causes a lethal disease. The catch? Only women are vulnerable to the effects, with men being potential asymptomatic carriers. The government starts a thoroughly dystopian program, the purpose of which seems to be to kidnap women and harvest their eggs to replenish the population, and bounty hunters who return with live women or eggs are offered handsome rewards. When Eva is stricken with the virus, she and Will decide to spend her last days somewhere beautiful; not in the cramped apartment where she has hidden for two years. But the trip is dangerous, and if Eva is exposed, she could be killed…or worse.
My biggest issue with this movie is how rampantly paternalistic it is. Eva is almost entirely helpless, following instructions from either her husband or her father, and all of her decisions are painted as irrational or emotional. Despite the fact that Eva is her own person, possessed of her own feelings and desires, anytime she tries to act of her own accord, her decisions are portrayed as childish or insipid.
That said, I think the film is largely well-intentioned – it’s not as if it paints a world without women as some kind of paradise. The characters face genuinely difficult choices, and their responses are interesting and thought provoking. Production values are good considering that the film clearly wasn’t made on a huge budget. Scenes are deliberately constructed so as not to require any complex effects, digital or practical. This also helps the movie stay focused on the interpersonal relationships, which is a benefit.
Not surprisingly, Only isn’t suitable for young viewers. The content is sometimes quite disturbing and even adults may well find themselves unsettled, especially if they are watching the film in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Aside from the overall peril, the violence on screen is toned down, with a few depictions of blood and injury, but nothing lingering or overly detailed. The sexual content is similarly dialed back: there are scenes of implied nudity, but nothing explicit can be seen between deep shadows and long hair. Swearing is easily the biggest concern, with over a dozen extreme profanities sprinkled throughout the 98 minute runtime.
Only doesn’t break any new ground in post-apocalyptic filmmaking, but it’s largely competent – if irritatingly paternalistic. If Eva had been written with more agency, the film might have been a good deal more watchable. As is, it’s bland but not unpalatable. Oh, and hugely depressing, but that describes a lot of films I like. It’s all about how good the depressing is. Relatively speaking, of course.Directed by Takashi Doscher. Starring Freida Pinto, Leslie Odom Jr.. Running time: 98 minutes. Theatrical release July 5, 2020. Updated October 27, 2020
Watch the trailer for Only
Rating & Content Info
Why is Only rated TV-MA? Only is rated TV-MA by the MPAA
Violence: A person is struck in the head with a rock. A character is shot in the leg. There is reference to women being abducted. A female character is frequently in situations of extreme peril.
Sexual Content: A woman is shown from the shoulders up in the shower, and is later shown mostly nude, but dim firelight and long hair obscure her image. There are references to prostitution and one use of transphobic slurs.
Profanity: There are fifteen uses of a sexual expletive, four uses of scatological curses, and occasional mild profanity and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are shown drinking something from a hip flask and are portrayed as intoxicated.
Page last updated October 27, 2020
Only Parents' Guide
Only hints at a dark future, in which women have died off in mass numbers. According to the National Organization for Women, in 2005 1181 women were murdered by an intimate partner in the United States alone, an average of three women every day. Violence against women is a huge problem in modern society. What steps can you take to be safe yourself, or to protect women in your life? What political measures have been taken where you live to address this problem? Does your local representative support measures which protect women?
UNWomen.org: Facts and figures: Ending violence against women
Amnesty International: Violence Against Women Is a US Problem Too
Canadian Women’s Foundation:
The New Republic: Five Things We Can Do to Reduce Domestic Violence
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Perhaps my favorite post-apocalyptic novel is Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz, which shows the remnants of humanity evolve over the centuries after a nuclear war brings them to the brink of extinction. Another specifically nuclear apocalypse is shown in Nevil Shute’s On the Beach, which is more focused on humanities individual responses to imminent doom. The books on which several of the movies I recommended are based, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson and The Road by Cormac McCarthy are also good places to start giving yourself apocalypse anxiety. Stephen King’s absurdly long epic, The Stand, sees warring communities of the survivors of a global pandemic fighting over the right to rule what’s left of the world. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood imagines a future where most women are infertile and women who can bear children become “handmaids” to have babies for community and religious leaders.
The most recent home video release of Only movie is March 6, 2020. Here are some details…
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A film released last year (and a much better one in my opinion), titled Light of my Life, has functionally the same premise, but smarter writing. A similar idea, a disease which makes everyone on Earth infertile, is explored in Children of Men.
There are many other films about the end of the world. I Am Legend, starring Will Smith and based (remarkably loosely) on the novel by Richard Matheson, explores the life of Robert Neville, seemingly the last man alive in the crumbling remains of New York City, accompanied by his dog and pursued by hordes of the undead. Perhaps the darkest version of the apocalypse is The Road, based on the Cormac McCarthy novel, and starring Viggo Mortenson and Kodi Smit-McPhee as a father and son in search of hope at the end of the world. For younger viewers, Disney/Pixar’s Wall-E follows the titular robot as he cleans up an Earth destroyed by years of pollution and unchecked consumerism.