Director: Carl Franklin
Writer: Karen Croner
Tom Everett Scott
Renee Zellweger is a New York magazine writer who has so much ambition that she doesn’t see1 to have time for her family. When she finally visits her folks, it’s to find that her father (William Hurt), a famous author and Harvard professor, is still as judgmental and hard-edged as always, yet you can’t help but like the guy. His daughter used to idolize him, but she ain’t all that sure of his perfection anymore. With her mom (Meryl Streep), it’s a different story. She’s the typical housewife, all happy and caring, even though she has to spend her days cleaning after her husband, cooking and taking care of everything. Zellweger loves her, of course, but she would do anything but live her mother’s life. But when Streep gets sick and Hurt asks his girl to move home to help her get through this, that’s just what she ends up doing.
A tear-jerking Hollywood drama that doesn’t revolutionize anything and that tries to communicate a rather reactionary, pre-feminist message not that subtly? Maybe, but thanks to Carl Franklin’s clever direction, which always stays real close to the characters, what could have been a TV movie-of-the-week becomes a thought-provoking and touching film. You’ll get new respect for your mom and all these optimistic, self-effacing people movies often mistake for weak and naive. Franklin is the gifted Afro-American filmmaker behind “One False Move” and “Devil In A Blue Dress”, two stylish yet not completely satisfying movies. This ain’t the greatest film of all times either, but it’s more intense than what you usually get from Tinseltown, and the acting is amazing.
Renee Zellweger is as much talented as she’s good looking, and William Hurt gives a restrained, powerful performance. The writers they play may seem insensitive at first, but the film shows that all that ambition is just a facade. Tom Everett Scott doesn’t have much screen time as the underachieving son, but it’s still enough for him to prove that he’s a darn good actor. His character is underwritten, but he brings such enthusiasm to him than you’d wish to see more of him. As for Meryl Streep, we all know what an exceptional actress she is, capable of bringing depth to any character. Through her character, she shows the sadder side of happiness, or maybe the bright side of sadness, as this courageous woman remains hopeful even in sickness. I won’t reveal more of the plot, but let’s say that this seemingly inoffensive film touches some controversial themes. In the end, “One True Thing” might not be the best film of the year, but it’s got its heart at the right place and is well worth seeing.