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One True Thing

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One True Thing + Postcards from the Edge + 4 Film Favorites: Meryl Streep (The Bridges of Madison County, Defending Your Life, The Hours, HEARTBURN)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Join Academy Award-winners Meryl Streep and William Hurt, along with Renee Zellweger, for an unforgettable look at the pleasure, pain and ultimate joy of being a family. When crisis confronts Katherine and George Gulden, they turn to their grown daughter, Ellen, for support. An ambitious New York journalist, Ellen at first rejects the idea of returning home. But once there, Ellen embarks on a journey of self-discovery that will change her forever. Uplifting and humorous, One True Thing is filled with the power of genuine passion.

Based on Anna Quindlen's bestselling novel, this is a mother-daughter and father-daughter story, two for the price of one. But director Carl Franklin also tries to inject a police-mystery angle that it neither needs nor will support. Renee Zellweger plays a young writer on the rise, who has finally gotten her break for a New York magazine. While home for a birthday party for her nearly famous writer father (William Hurt), she learns that her mother (Meryl Streep) has been diagnosed with cancer. Then her father does the unthinkable: He all but commands her to put her career on hold to take care of her mother and nurse her through her illness. Dad, a popular college professor who has never gotten the literary acclaim he always believed he deserved, essentially checks out--and daughter must play parent to her mother. Strong performances by Streep and Zellweger give this parent-child relationship the heart--and the anger--of the real thing, while Hurt seems slightly disembodied as the self-involved father whose needs have dominated both women. Still, the detective-story aspect (the film is told in flashback, as the cops try to discover whether someone slipped Mom a fatal dose of morphine) is a construct that could have been done without. --Marshall Fine

Special Features

  • Spotlight on Location
  • Production Notes
  • Cast and Filmmakers
  • Theatrical Trailer

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Meryl Streep, Renee Zellweger, William Hurt, Tom Everett Scott, Lauren Graham
    • Directors: Carl Franklin
    • Writers: Karen Croner
    • Producers: Jesse Beaton, Harry J. Ufland
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
    • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.0), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
    • Subtitles: English, Spanish
    • Dubbed: French
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated: R (Restricted)
    • Studio: Universal Studios
    • DVD Release Date: March 16, 1999
    • Run Time: 128 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: 0783230583
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,188 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "One True Thing" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    4.6 out of 5 stars

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By cdset on February 17, 2002
    Format: VHS Tape
    "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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    23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By T. George on January 25, 2004
    Format: DVD
    The first time I watched this film it was the 3rd movie we were watching in a marathon. I promised myself I would let myself fall asleep...and with the slow beginning I thought I was well on my way to dreamland. HOWEVER,something about the movie kept my attention, and by the end I was astounded by new revelations.
    I watched this film again recently, and again I was amazed at all that this movie accomplishes in a very understated way. At a time when I personally feel frustrated at all the preachiness I see going on in literature and movies, I am a champion of this masterpiece. This film engaged me, brought me through a rich journey, and left me as a changed person...all without telling me what I should take away from the film.
    For a little more background, the storyline is as follows: an up-and-coming NYC journalist (Zellweger) goes home to celebrate her father's birthday in a small town. She despises the vulgar simplicity of the town, her mother, the costume party, etc. However, she absolutely idolizes her father, who is a well-known English professor at a nearby university.
    However, while she is at home, her beloved father coerces her to put her budding career on hold so she can take care of her mother (Streep), who she learns is battling cancer. Zellweger's character is openly angered & offended by this request...which is just the beginning of script filled with a refreshingly honest look at our ugly, selfish & occassionally brilliant emotions in such situations.
    In coming to stay with her mother, Zellweger continues to despise the ignoble life of women's meetings, town decorating, baking, etc. that she is forced to join. Up to this point in the movie, everything is as you might predict or expect in the storyline.
    Read more ›
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    18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on May 20, 2000
    Format: DVD
    It seems less and less frequently that we get to see a superbly assembled cast of actors united in a story that tells itself in terms of its human interest, level of drama, and opportunity to learn something from the characters about the nature of life, relationships, and ultimately about ourselves. This movie offers such an opportunity. All of the cast memebers, but especially Meryl Streep and William Hurt, do an outstanding job in presenting this tale of a family in crisis, and the hidden secrets, weaknesses and strengths of its members and their enduring bonds to each other. The photography is well done, and the sound is excellent as well.
    This is a worthwhile and serious movie, involving some interesting intellectual issues about how the needs of a family of strong but loving individuals and quite strong and needy personalities clash and interact with each other over an increasingly critical stage of terminal illness for the matriarchal mother of this modern American family. Overall, then, I recommend this as an absorbing examination of an intellectual family with a range of family issues such as rilvary, and a number of hidden dimensions to the relationships within the family itself. It is painful to watch each of them struggle to deal with a member's decline and death due to cancer. One of the increasingly rare worthwhile movie experiences, and one well worth owning.
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    9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Daniel S. on May 6, 2000
    Format: DVD
    Carl Franklin's ONE TRUE THING is the kind of movie you can't dislike. A universal moving story, above-average actors and a classical treatment by a talented new director. Pretty rare these days, isn't it ? So let's enjoy this motion picture.
    ONE TRUE THING is about the generations' clash and family life. It describes the growing understanding of a young modern girl for her mother's life. This mother, played by a sumptuous Meryl Streep, has dedicated her life to her husband and her two children, sacrificing herself for a selfish family.
    Along with Renee Zellweger, we will discover what is hidden behind the boring everyday life of that woman. Discreetly, Carl Franklin's camera chases the little tragedies and joys of human condition and reminds us that life is not worth living without mutual tolerance.
    A DVD for the family.
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