Friday, November 27, 2009

One True Thing (1998)

A movie to touch your heart

An American drama film directed by Carl Franklin. It tells the story of a woman who is forced to put her life on hold in order to care for her mother who is dying of cancer. It was adapted by Karen Croner from the novel by Anna Quindlen. It was directed by Carl Franklin. The movie stars Meryl Streep, Renée Zellweger, William Hurt, Tom Everett Scott, Lauren Graham and Nicky Katt. Bette Midler sings the lead song, "My One True Friend", over the end credits. The track was first released on Midler's 1998 album Bathhouse Betty.

Director: Carl Franklin

Cast: Meryl Streep, Renée Zellweger, William Hurt, Tom Everett Scott, Lauren Graham, Nicky Katt

One True Thing is a family drama revolving around a dying mother's final months in the care of her daughter. Ellen Gulden's father rebukes her for not caring enough about her mother to quit her job, move back home to Upstate New York, and leave her soulmate behind to fend for himself in their tidy New York apartment. But, when she succumbs under the strain of guilt and does as he asks, it appears that he is too busy to carry his part of the load. In fact, it begins to look like Ellen's father is more concerned with who is going to keep his life running smoothly than who will tend to his poor wife as she struggles with cancer. George Gulden is a gifted professor and English department head, but he is an unrealized novelist. His novel, "Come Back Inn," is still unfinished after many years of torturous self-editing and rewrites long after the advance he received from his publisher is spent. Still, he basks in the reflected glow of more famous and successful writers with whom he maintains tenuous ties. This realization humanizes him for Ellen who has always revered her father as something of a literary giant in spite of his occassional daliances with graduate students. Kate Gulden, dying of cancer at only 48, loves life, and loves her children and her husband. When her suffering finally ends from an overdose of morphine, the District Attorney suspects Ellen of having helped her mother to end her life. In the end, though, it seems to be Kate who still nurtures them, somehow even from the grave.

Shifting Perceptions Lead to a "True" Understanding
Review by cdset

"One True Thing" beautifully and poignantly demonstrates that appearances can be deceiving, and that what one sees on the surface doesn't necessarily reflect the deeper truth. In this brilliantly acted film, Zellweger (the daughter), discovers that her notions about her parents (Streep and Hurt) and about marriage in general were illusions, and, in turn, comes to a greater understanding of both her parents and the realities of marriage.

Zellweger's relationship with her mother was always strained. and she looked down upon her mother's life thinking it provincial and small. Her father, the college department head and National Book Award winner, however, was put on a pedestal, appearing larger than life to her. When Zellweger moves back home to nurse her dying mother, she painfully discovers that her father treats her accomplishments as "small" and irrelevant (comparable to her view of her mother), and that he is far removed from her idealized image of him. She, in turn, comes to a new admiration and appreciation for her mother's perserverance and wisdom about life.

Streep, one of our greatest actresses, can communicate more with a look on her expressive face than most actresses can with hours of dialogue. Zellweger, another talented performer, more than holds her own with the formidable acting talents of Streep. The two of them together create scenes of enormous power and emotional energy. They make this perceptive and absorbing film an unforgettable experience.

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