I Love You Both is a capable debut that offers a different perspective on growth and sibling bonds.
Sibling rivalry, especially in love, has been the premise of plenty of romantic comedies, but I Love You Both, written by and starring siblings Doug and Kristin Archibald and directed by Doug, isn’t about a vicious rivalry. The debut is low key, almost to a fault, portraying inseparable twins who want to spend all their time together. When they’re not together, they’re texting or calling each other. The introduction of a potential love interest for one naturally means the duo will now be a trio. But confusion over where exactly that attraction is directed leads to miscommunication, a growing divide between siblings and frustration over potentially losing a best friend.
In a rare moment without her ever-present brother by her side, Krystal (Kristin) meets Andy (Lucas Neff), a charmingly wild-haired elementary school art teacher, at a coworker’s house party. Krystal likes him instantly and introduces him to Donny (Doug). The trio lounge on a bed discussing Krystal and Donny’s website and app ideas, which Andy is impressed by and encourages—even the one where users would just post pictures of fat exes. He invites the twins to an auction-dinner party the following week to meet a guy who works in the industry. Krystal, for her part, recently broke up with her boyfriend/coworker and claims she isn’t looking to get back into a relationship so soon. All three leave the party thinking Krystal and Andy are going to be a thing.
She makes eyes at Andy throughout that auction party but senses a shift when he lets Donny buy his painting of a pig with Monopoly money. So does Donny. Even when Andy invites only Krystal to a wine bar, she interprets his paying the bill early as a sign that he isn’t enjoying himself and wants to leave. Confused by her rebuffed behavior, Andy starts hanging out solely with Donny, going to art shows and bars. Krystal starts telling Donny she’s so happy he has Andy in his life. The twins act as though Donny and Andy are dating—and seriously—despite the fact that they have only kissed cheeks and hugged. Krystal’s loneliness is mostly self-inflicted, but she nonetheless begins to mope jealously and return to thoughts of her ex. An invite on a weekend getaway with Donny and Andy makes her third-wheel status unavoidable.
The piecemeal nature of Andy’s growing relationship with the siblings plays more into shifting emotions rather than simultaneous attraction, the latter seemingly what the Archibalds are going for here. It doesn’t undermine the premise, but Krystal’s frustration with Andy certainly weakens the surprise of the film’s finale. Andy’s actions on the trip shake up everything she thinks she knows about his feelings for Donny and lead her to sever all ties from him, for herself and her brother. In a display of their complete trust, Donny doesn’t ask that many questions about it. The whole film is more quirkily deadpan than dramatic, rendering the love triangle of sorts as a series of stumbling miscommunications and misadventures.
This stretch of time when Krystal and Donny let Andy into their lives is portrayed as a growing period, testing their ability to be apart and to selflessly remove themselves from each other’s day-to-day lives. Some may criticize the film for building romantic drama on a whole lot of nothing, but it’s refreshingly realistic and honest to see characters interpret not only major attraction but commitment from small actions. And Kristin and Doug Archibald cleverly leave it up to the audience to make their own judgments about Andy’s feelings throughout. The romance-free finale surprises, as does the ambiguity given the title of the film, but I Love You Both is a capable debut that offers a different perspective on growth and sibling bonds.