One True Loves: 8 Differences Between The Book And The Movie

 Simu Liu and Phillipa Soo
Simu Liu and Phillipa Soo

Daisy Jones and the Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo are two of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s most well-known works. However, they are only two in a list of intriguing stories about love and complicated relationships. One True Loves falls into this category. In 2023, it became a major motion picture starring Phillipa Soo and Simu Liu. The One True Loves movie is one of the most anticipated upcoming book adaptations. 

It’s also one of the upcoming Phillipa Soo projects that we couldn’t wait to watch. One True Loves follows Emma Blair (Phillipa Soo) as she finds herself torn between her husband and her fiancé. If you think this is a sexy throuple story, you would be wrong. Instead, it’s about losing one love in a devastating way and falling in love again, but then having to sort through your feelings for both of them. If you’ve read One True Loves or watched the One True Loves movie, you may be wondering how the two entities differ.

In many ways, this Phillipa Soo and Simu Liu romantic movie doesn’t differ that much from the book, but there are a few key differences. Let’s discuss them.

Oona Yaffe and Phonehas Yoon in One True Loves

Teen Sam And Teen Emma Aren't Best Friends In The Book

In the book, Sam (Simu Liu) and Emma first become friends because Sam worked at her parents’ bookstore. Sam is a year older than Emma so they remain close until he graduates high school and moves away. In the One True Loves movie, Sam and Emma’s relationship is portrayed like they grew up together, and basically, he’s been hopelessly in love with her all his life. They’re also best friends in the movie, but in the book, her best friend is a different character. Sam and she are close friends in the book, but they are not best friends.

Additionally, in the book, Sam asks Emma out during one of their first conversations, but she kind of panics and doesn’t answer him. However, she spends a good chunk of their friendship regretting that moment and wishing he would ask her out again. The movie makes it seem like Emma only sees him as a friend and has no romantic interest in him. The movie uses the "secretly in love with your best friend" trope. This is a trope you often find in movies like Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful. However, the book uses more of the missed opportunity trope.

Oona Yaffe, Phinehas Yoon, and Cooper van Grootel in One True Loves

More Time Is Spent On Emma’s Teen Years In The Book

Most of the first part of One True Loves talks about Emma’s teen years. It showcases her friendship with Sam and her crush on Jesse (Luke Bracey), which eventually becomes a relationship. This part matters because it kind of shows how she’s been romantically and emotionally attached to both guys most of her life. It also shows how she could have had a life with either depending on her choices.

The film reduces the teen Emma part to a few scenes. Basically, the movie uses them to showcase how Jesse and Emma start dating and to paint Sam as this hopeless puppy dog pining after his best friend.

Simu Liu in One True Loves

The Movie Adds Romantic Comedy Elements

One True Loves is a pretty serious book. It deals with loss, depression, trauma, and other serious topics. However, it does have some lighter moments, but it’s not a romantic comedy. The One True Loves movie tries to incorporate some elements of the best romantic comedies to make it more of a dramedy than just a drama.

Tonally, it’s a weird choice. Additionally, Simu Liu seems like the only character in the romantic comedy, while everyone else is dealing with the drama part of the dramedy.

Simu Liu in One True Loves

Sam Doesn’t Pour His Heart Out To His Students In The Book

In another strange choice, the One True Loves movie spends more time showing Sam’s side of the temporary split than it does in the book. He tells Emma that he’s hurt but the book is very much from Emma’s perspective.

Additionally, continuing with the weird comedic elements, movie Sam spends some time in the film using his students as his therapist. These scenes are clearly played for laughs, but nowhere near anything presented in the book.

Luke Bracey in One True Loves

The Movie Omits Most Of Jesse's Olympic Swimmer Backstory

The One True Loves movie briefly shows Emma and Jesse’s first real conversation in the police station. However, it completely omits a major part of it. Jesse and Emma bond because they both don’t want to live life by their parents' expectations. She doesn’t want to work at the bookstore and he doesn’t want to become an Olympic swimmer. This is why they spend most of their relationship traveling and seeing the world. They’re running from their old lives and ordinary life.

The film only casually has Sam mention to Emma that Jesse is going to the Olympics, and it shows him diving into a pool. However, it’s not talked about in-depth in the movie and is barely mentioned after that initial scene. The Olympic story being removed from the movie is not that big of a deal, especially since most of Emma’s teen years are gone as well. However, in the book, when Jesse talks about surviving in the ocean, he mentions the irony of his old swimmer skills being the thing that saves him.

I just thought that was a clever detail that got unfortunately removed from the movie, but it wouldn’t be the first time clever details got removed from a Taylor Jenkins Reid adaptation.

Luke Bracey in One True Loves

You Learn More About Jesse’s Time At Sea In The Book

Another conflict between Jesse and Emma is that he won’t open up about his time at sea. In the book, when they finally have their big fight at the cabin, he gives more of the gory details of it all, including how he lost one of his fingers. The One True Loves movie shows the fight scene, but Jesse only vaguely discusses his trauma and anger.

The movie doesn’t quite capture all Jesse endured to make it back to Emma and the pain he must feel knowing that she has found love again and built a life without him.

Phillipa Soo in One True Loves

Emma Doesn’t Get A Makeover In The Movie

In the One True Loves movie, Jesse’s mother comments that Emma looks different. These lines don’t really make sense because Emma looks exactly the same. However, if people want to interpret it, they could believe she says this because Emma is different now and it’s reflected in her look. It could also mean that Jesse’s family hasn’t seen Emma in a while and she just aged since they last saw her. This line could work if you want to think beyond the lines, but the book makes things simpler. Jesse’s mother says these words because Emma looks really different.

She changes her look by cutting her hair short and dyeing it blonde. This choice reflects her taking charge of her new life without Jesse. It also represents another conflict between who Emma is now and who Jesse believes she should be. He doesn’t like her new look.

Michaela Conlin and Phillipa Soo in One True Loves

The Book Spends More Time With Emma’s Family

The One True Loves movie tries its best to showcase Emma’s family, especially her relationship with her sister. However, it doesn’t spend enough time highlighting it. This is understandable because the movie’s runtime is only about an hour and forty minutes, so it couldn’t go into as much detail as the book. Nevertheless, the sisters' bond and friendship evolution is one of the best parts of the One True Loves book. I wish they included it more in the film.

The One True Loves movie is available to rent or buy on Amazon. It’s one of the best movies to watch on Amazon right now. Rent or buy One True Loves on Amazon. 

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