One True Thing (1998) - Rotten Tomatoes

One True Thing (1998)



Critic Consensus: Solid performances lift this drama to a higher level.

One True Thing Trailers & Photos

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), who's due for surgery. Ellen needs to get away from the problems of her relationship with her boyfriend Jordan (Nicky Katt), but she plans to continue work on the magazine article from home. In truth, Ellen is uncomfortable with her mother's various ladies club lunches, and holiday preparations, and she finds communication with her mother awkward. Once Ellen arrives back home, she's dismayed to find herself caught in the web of her mother's Middle America activities. Ellen's attitude changes when it becomes apparent this probably will be the final Thanksgiving and Christmas with all family members present. But tensions erupt as long-buried family secrets emerge. Locations in New Jersey were used to create the film's Eastern coastal college town. Shown at the 1998 Montreal Film Festival. ~ Bhob Stewart, Rovimore
Rating: R (for language)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Karen Croner
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 10, 1999
Universal - Official Site


Renée Zellweger
as Ellen Gulden
Meryl Streep
as Kate Gulden
William Hurt
as George Gulden
Nicky Katt
as Jordan Belzer
James Eckhouse
as District Attorney
Patrick Breen
as Mr. Tweedy
Gerrit Graham
as Oliver Most
David Byron
as Senator Sullivan
Lizabeth MacKay
as Dr. Cohen
Sloane Shelton
as Mrs. Best
Bobo Lewis
as Muriel
John Deyle
as Santa/Mayor
Hallee Hirsh
as 8-Year-Old Ellen
Jeffrey Scaperrotta
as 4-Year-Old Brian
Anna Alvim
as Nurse Teresa
Julie Janney
as Hospital Nurse
Susan Stout
as Tweedy's Secretary
Greg Hedtke
as Magazine Executive
Christian James
as Magazine Executive
Lauren Toub
as Halloween Girl
Ashley Remy
as Halloween Girl
Saul Williams
as Graduate Student
Julianne Nicholson
as College Student
Amber Kain
as College Student
Kathryn Walsh
as Party Kid
Doug Allen
as Club Band Leader
Kirk Driscoll
as Club Band Member
Paul Pimsler
as Club Band Member
Scott Spray
as Club Band Member
Jay Stollman
as Club Band Member
Cathy Comiskey
as Christmas Choir Memb...
Ruth Egner
as Christmas Choir Memb...
Phil Gamble
as Christmas Choir Memb...
Spencer David Hutchi...
as Christmas Choir Memb...
Linda Hutchings
as Christmas Choir Memb...
Wilbur Lewis
as Christmas Choir Memb...
Rich Morin
as Christmas Choir Memb...
Annette Mulholland
as Christmas Choir Memb...
Rosemary Palmer
as Christmas Choir Memb...
Gina Piccolo
as Christmas Choir Memb...
Rebecca Raines
as Christmas Choir Memb...
Barbara Russell
as Christmas Choir Memb...
Joanna Hoty Russell
as Christmas Choir Memb...
Barbara Savino
as Christmas Choir Memb...
Normana Schaaf
as Christmas Choir Memb...
Paul Schroeder
as Christmas Choir Memb...
Mary G. Sims
as Christmas Choir Memb...
Wolodymyr Smishkewyc...
as Christmas Choir Memb...
Chris Sterling
as Christmas Choir Memb...
Nancy Tkacs
as Christmas Choir Memb...
Peter Zimmerman
as Christmas Choir Memb...
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for One True Thing

Critic Reviews for One True Thing

All Critics (62) | Top Critics (20)

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

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | April 12, 2002
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Even director Carl Franklin...can't prevent One True Thing from descending into chick-movie hell.

May 11, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | February 14, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Probably won't appeal to teens.

Full Review… | December 26, 2010
Common Sense Media

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

Full Review… | June 18, 2008
TV Guide's Movie Guide

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.

Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer


meryl is very touching if only the rest of the movie matched her strong performance

jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Pretty good and emotional.

Leigh Ryan

Super Reviewer

One True Thing Quotes

– Submitted by Mauricio R (4 years ago)

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