My One and Only is one of those small movies that flies under the radar for a number of reasons. It has an unfortunate title (too generic), no car chases, and no special effects. There are no vampires. But it has two things that 95 percent of modern movies lack: a script brimming with humanity and wit, and a cast of actors obviously in love with the film. Reportedly, My One and Only is loosely based on the early life of actor George Hamilton. If Hamilton’s teen years were anything like events in this film, they must have been colorful, indeed.
As the movie opens, young George’s mother, Ann (Renee Zellweger), finally has enough of her philandering, bandleader husband (Kevin Bacon), and so packs up George and his half-brother Robbie (Mark Rendall), assuring them that their new life on the road will be “an adventure.” Ann rashly purchases an expensive, 1953 Cadillac Eldorado. This acquisition is just the first of many unwise decisions Ann will make as she dallies, disastrously, with a series of potential new husbands.
Ann might be delusional, but she is also tenacious. Just as Blanche DuBois “always depended on the kindness of strangers,” kindred spirit Ann has her own aphorism: “Everything works out for the best.” Well, maybe not always. I have never been a big fan of Zellweger’s acting. I did like her in Jerry Maguire, but that was a long time ago. But Zellweger doesn’t simply carry My One and Only, she turns in an unforgettable performance. I am now an unapologetic fan.
My One and Only is a road-trip movie that shines because there are so many genuine, small moments that aren’t essential to the plot, but that nonetheless stand out. Every character this gypsy-like family encounters on the road is flawed, but also likable. When Ann, George and Robbie depart Pittsburgh to continue their journey, thereby cutting short a tenuous romance between George and a freckle-faced sweetheart named Paula, the camera lingers on the girl, who is sad to see them go. So was I. Grade: B+
Director: Richard Loncraine Cast: Renee Zellweger, Logan Lerman, Mark Rendall, Kevin Bacon, Troy Garity, David Koechner, J.C. MacKenzie, Eric McCormack, Chris Noth, Molly C. Quinn Release: 2009
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