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Laramie Movie Scope:
One True Thing

Difficult family relationships exposed in
"One True Thing"

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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October 18, 1998 -- The stealth art film series at the Fox Theatre in Laramie continued this week with "One True Thing," which may not be an art film, but it has Meryl Streep in it, so what the heck, let's call it an art film.

This series started with "Cousin Bette," based on the Henry James novel, and continued with "Mrs. Dalloway," based on the Virginia Woolfe story and that was followed by "The Last Days of Disco." Like the others, "One True Thing" opened in Laramie a month or more after its national release.

It kind of makes sense when you think about it. The Carmike theater chain, which owns the local theaters, doesn't lose too much opening art films long after the national opening because the theater owner's take of the box office receipts goes up from as little as 10 percent the first week to maybe 50 percent or more by the fourth week on a movie that's not doing much business. The rest, of course, goes back to the studio.

As I said, Meryl Streep stars in this film about a mother, Kate Gulden, who doesn't get much respect from her daughter, Ellen (Renée Zellweger of "Jerry McGuire") and seems to be taken for granted by her father, George, (William Hurt) and the rest of her family.

Ellen reluctantly agrees to come home to take care of her mother when she learns she has cancer. When she takes over her mother's cooking, cleaning and social activities, Ellen begins to learn how much her mother has had to work to keep the household running smoothly. She also finds out that her father is not quite the godlike person she thought he was.

At first, Ellen tries to keep her job as a writer for a New York magazine, but finally has to give up everything to take care of her mother. Ellen and her mother finally have a heart-to-heart talk in which she learns her mother is not as naive as she thought she was.

The story is well-told in that we really get to know the main characters in the film and we come to understand how they relate to each other. Ellen's initiation into the "minis," a group of Martha Stewart-like happy homemakers which her mother belongs to is funny and poignant. Also poignant is Ellen's discovery of how much her father was crushed by a thoughtless comment by a man he admired.

The film is helped, by wonderful performances by two of the top talents in the business in Streep and Hurt, and Zellweger stays right with them. The rest of the cast is forgettable and the story could have been tightened up a little, but it is a good, entertaining, thought-provoking film. It rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 1998 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)