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  April 2nd, 2012       Posted by Frederik       Display Comments

This week’s spotlight movie is “One True Thing”, the 1998 adaptation of Anna Quindlen’s novel. Meryl Streep and Renee Zellweger play mother and daughter who have to face loss and family secrets when the mother is diagnosed with cancer. It’s a small, well acted film, one for the heart. Full review and production notes can be found after the cut. The image library has been upaded with new screencaptures and promotional stills from the film. Edit: Video clips from the film – scenes, making of, theatrical trailer in better quality – have been added to the video archive. As always, tell me what you think of “One True Thing” in the comments.

Production Notes

“One True Thing” is based on Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Anna Quindlen’s 1995 novel of the same name. For director Carl Franklin, the story presented an opportunity to tackle a film unlike any he has directed. Best known for the acclaimed independent feature “One False Move”, Franklin might have been an unlikely choice for “One True Thing”, except that his passion for the project was unsinkable. The story was clearly in keeping with one of his foremost concerns: the importance of family and community in diverse American lives. Kate Gulden fascinated Streep not only with her deep maternal qualities, but with her hidden complexities – especially her complicated and undying love for her difficult husband George. “One of things that interested me about this story is how if you look at anybody else’s marriage, especially your parent’s marriage, it is completely inscrutable. You just can’t understand it. As a child, you look at your parents and you make your decisions about them: which one’s the bad guy and which one’s the good guy, and who they really are. And often you get it completely wrong. Ellen has gotten Kate completely wrong and now she’s learning who her mother really is. It’s a powerful thing to attempt.

I was talking to Anna Quindlen the other day, and she said, ‘I couldn’t get over how nice you were to my kid on the set the day you were about to go up to the bedroom and do the pivotal emotional scene.’ But I was so glad she brought her kid on the set, I was so glad I had something else to think about, because these feelings are so dangerous. As an actor, sometimes you do everything you can to push a feeling away from you, because you don’t have to work for it. It’s too accessible, it’s all right there, and you’d better damn well do your best to think about lunch or complain about your wardrobe. It was like the choice scene in ‘Sophie’s Choice’. I read that scene once when they gave me the script. I didn’t ever want to look at it. I knew what that was going to be. I didn’t have to practice. You don’t want to make any connections to your own life – just don’t go there. (Meryl Streep, Entertainment Weekly, 2000)

Adds Carl Franklin: “I think what makes Kate so interesting is that she is never judgmental. It’s part of her nurturing quality to let her family members have the freedom to be who they are. Meanwhile, Ellen is operating under a lot of preconceived pressures and expectations that have been imparted to her by her father and Kate sees that and wants her to break that chain.” He continues: “It was very exciting to have Meryl in this role. Her emotional commitment to the character and what she represents was so strong. You know, there’s a magic with actors like Meryl Streep and William Hurt in that they just mysteriously get to the heart of their characters. You can’t really even see their process. It just happens.”

Frederik’s Review

“One True Thing” is a brave character study of a family whose lives are changed and influenced by their mother’s suffering of cancer. In of of her many 1990’s mother roles, Meryl’s Kate Gulden is a highly annoying mom. She comes off candy-coded, over emtional, shriek and perfect about everything – from a birthday cake to her mosaic table to the Christmas tree decoration. We get to understand that Ellen, the ambitious journalist, has always liked her father more, who seems more down to earth and with a job to look up to, over her mother’s “housewife life”. And Meryl Streep does a magnificent job as the most annoying mother you could imagine. But as her disease progresses, we get to know the person behind the “mother”. She’s the one who’s keeps the family together, who’s there for others, who needs her activities to make room in her head for thoughts other than her husband’s infidelity. We also see the times when she’s losing her temper, throwing dishes and wanting to be healthy again. The most emotional scenes are between Meryl and Renée Zellweger in the latter half of the film when it becomes apparent that this is not a temporary nurse job but a farewell. The film is beautifully acted and very moving. I had reminded it of being more television-style until I recently re-watched it, it’s deeper and more thoughtful than I remembered. Recommended!




  • Jeff

    Meryl is absolutely amazing in this film. My mother died of ovarian cancer, and the film is gut-wrenching in it’s authenticity. To see family members come together and grow through tragedy is a great thing, even though the movie is very hard to watch.

  • Markus

    my grandmother died from bone cancer in 1993… i was 17 then… the scene when meryls family realizes that this was the LAST christmas with her always triggers off one of the most painful memories of my life so far… i’ve never cried again since 1993… except when i watch that movie…

  • Mandy

    I just cried, cried and cried when watching this movie. I was sooo moved by Meryl’s character in it and after watching it, I can’t help writing a long diary about my feelings.

    This movie always reminds me of the value of families and that I should cherish my parents’ love for me.

    Thank Meryl for bringing such a character into my life, who really changed my mindset a lot.

  • lindi

    I couldn´t resist, I had to see it again, I just finish to see this movie again because I like it so much that I never want it to end. My mother otherwise nowing Kate is going to die, when she saw it on TV, almost didn´t get to the end, at the middle, she asked me, ¿is Meryl going to die? and when I told her yes, but continue watching it, cause it´s really good, she did, but bearly got to the end, she likes Meryl, but not at as a fan, she has me to keep her updated.
    Any how, this time with more information, my eyes wide open so nothing happens that I couldn´t notice, Caught my attention the love between Kate and George, George appears at certain point to be a hipocrit or a martir of the situation, but he was in such pain and despite of cirscuntances Kate loved him so much , cause they were, I think accomplices in this love

  • lindi

    Honestly I didn´t know this movie was an adaptation of a novel, a Pulitzer winning even, shame on me, You got to have a strong stomach to see this one It´s a remarkable movie aswell as Meryl´s performance which is , honestly, flawless, Renee Zelweger was an amazing co star, great acting, I really like her she proyected her role just as she was supposed to without lacking of courage, to do it, she was very unexperienced at the time and jet she managed to discloused William Hurt character, which I think it was the most complex and troubled of all, The amazing conflicts in this suffering family, which only Kate Gulden is able to support with her love, her tenderness, you can even think she is kind of silly at time, that she is naiv, but she ain´t at all, she maintain this family, at the same timeshe struggle with the cancer, awful, It´s terrible, but is lovable

  • Sonja

    It’s a very hard movie to watch.
    To watch her suffering from cancer is nearly unbearable.
    It’s still a good movie and great performance from Meryl, of course.
    Although it’s one of these rare cases where I found her role more supporting than leading, but she is the important person in the film.
    But I wished Renee Zellweger should have gotten more awards interest, too. She was really good in this role as the daughter.
    So was William Hurt. And you can’t help but really dislike him for most of the movie.
    Very good movie, just hard to watch.

  • Esther

    I’ve probably seen it more than 10 times. Meryl’s just perfect in it, as always!

  • Wendy

    Amazing and my favourite film

  • Steve

    This movie contains one of Meryl Streep’s finest performances. Never before or since has she touched the human heart so softly and beautifully.

  • Tena

    Like almost every movie that Meryl has ever made, I saw this one for the first time in a theater. It’s well worth seeing, a true character study that tells the tale of one family with all the truth and secrets laid bare. Meryl’s performance is pitch perfect as usual and very moving. I prefer lighter fare, but really just because Meryl is so damn funny and in this one she has her moments as well! I’ve seen this movie several times and I cry at each viewing! Another must see!

  • Karina

    Absolutely a great movie,i just love it!

  • Gary R

    love this film. Meryl, as usual is great, William and Renee as well. highly recommended, especially for those who has or is suffering the same fate.

  • Silvia

    Hi Frederik

    I just want to congratulate you for your wonderful job doing this website.
    Your consistency is amazing.

    Note that your work has reached São Paulo, Brazil !!

    Keep in touch and cheers

    SF

  • Harry

    This movie is a MUST watch for Meryl Streep fans. She did a magnificent job as always! She is breathtaking and superb as the mother. She touches my heart throughout the whole movie. Well, words can’t describe how good she is! The movie is really emotional and really good. Do yourself a favor and watch this!

  • A

    <3 My favourite.

  • Jane

    I love this movie.
    very sad, but a favorite

  • Marc

    Excellent, touching film. Meryl should have won the Oscar for this one!