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One True Thing (1998)



Average Rating: 7.2/10
Reviews Counted: 61
Fresh: 54 | Rotten: 7

Solid performances lift this drama to a higher level.


Average Rating: 6.8/10
Critic Reviews: 20
Fresh: 17 | Rotten: 3

Solid performances lift this drama to a higher level.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 9,431

My Rating

Movie Info

Carl Franklin directed this family drama adapted from the 1995 novel by former New York Times columnist Anna Quindlen about a young woman who goes back home to take care of her dying mother. In 1987-88, independent Ellen Gulden (Renee Zellweger), a Harvard grad, is working on a New York Magazine investigative article when she hears from her father, George (William Hurt), a literary critic and university professor. He tells Ellen she's needed at home to care for her mother, Kate (Meryl Streep),



Karen Croner

Aug 10, 1999

Universal Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (62) | Top Critics (20) | Fresh (54) | Rotten (7) | DVD (4)

The script shifts audience sympathies about quite adroitly, though it's a pity all the men had to be such humbugs.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A well-oiled machine manufactured to tap our welled-up ducts.

April 12, 2002 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
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Even director Carl Franklin...can't prevent One True Thing from descending into chick-movie hell.

May 11, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One True Thing demonstrates that the power of simple things, the transcendent nature of the ordinary, can make for riveting filmmaking.

February 14, 2001 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
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An emotional drama!

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Meryl Streep is an actress of such transcendent skill and sympathy that she regularly elevates her material, taking it up several notches and giving us feelings, insights, feelings and textures the original writer may have just missed expressing.

January 1, 2000
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Probably won't appeal to teens.

December 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Carl Franklin's understated direction keeps the tears and life-affirming revelations from congealing into chicken shmaltz for the soul.

June 18, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

There isn't one schmaltzy moment in the entire film, and any tears the viewer sobs into their hankies are well-earned.

June 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

There's a lot of Oscar timber here...

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Streep, Zellweger, and Hurt are outstanding.

April 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

the movie ultimately belongs to Streep, who illuminates the extraordinary soul inside an everyday woman.

June 4, 2003 Full Review Source: Kalamazoo Gazette
Kalamazoo Gazette

One of those rare films -- a movie that is genuinely sad and moving without being melodramatic, sentimental or hokey.

May 22, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Blather
Film Blather

Streep's performance will probably secure her another Oscar nomination.

February 8, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Quips Online
Film Quips Online

As finely wrought a drama as one could ask for.

November 7, 2002 Full Review Source: Netflix

Brings extraordinary honesty and keen emotional pitch to the family drama.

October 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Enquirer

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.

September 10, 2002 Full Review Source: Montreal Film Journal
Montreal Film Journal

A heart-affecting film that challenges us to confront some of the myths and meanings we have constructed about our parents.

March 3, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Instead of being just about coping with cancer, it tells an interesting story about a young woman coming to terms with the fact that her parents are not who she always thought they were.

February 27, 2001 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

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.

January 1, 2001 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Streep's performance mesmerizes, but it is Zellweger's engrossing portrayal as the selfish daughter that sells her as a serious Hollywood actress.

January 1, 2000
TNT's Rough Cut

Streep's work elevates what is otherwise a middling melodrama that's part coming-to-terms-with-your-family story and part 'few-months-to-live' plot.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: San Francisco Examiner
San Francisco Examiner

Audience Reviews for One True Thing

Sad, but very good story about a daughter dealing with the death by cancer of the mother she never really got along with. Surprisingly, this isn't overly sentimental. I found it quite moving.
Excellent performances by Meryl Streep and Renee zellweger.
April 15, 2012

Super Reviewer

meryl is very touching if only the rest of the movie matched her strong performance
April 6, 2007
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Good but slightly barfy film about daughters and dying mothers. I'm sure if you like that sort of thing, this is right up your alley.
February 6, 2012
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

    1. Kate Gulden: [dressed as Dorothy] Welcome! There's no place like home!
    2. Ellen Gulden: [silently, to herself] Thank God.
    – Submitted by Mauricio R (2 years ago)
View all quotes (1)

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