One True Thing


One True Thing

Critics Consensus

Solid performances lift this drama to a higher level.



Total Count: 61


Audience Score

User Ratings: 9,624
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One True Thing 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, Rovi

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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 Member
Ruth Egner
as Christmas Choir Member
Phil Gamble
as Christmas Choir Member
Spencer David Hutchings
as Christmas Choir Member
Linda Hutchings
as Christmas Choir Member
Wilbur Lewis
as Christmas Choir Member
Rich Morin
as Christmas Choir Member
Annette Mulholland
as Christmas Choir Member
Rosemary Palmer
as Christmas Choir Member
Gina Piccolo
as Christmas Choir Member
Rebecca Raines
as Christmas Choir Member
Barbara Russell
as Christmas Choir Member
Joanna Hoty Russell
as Christmas Choir Member
Barbara Savino
as Christmas Choir Member
Normana Schaaf
as Christmas Choir Member
Paul Schroeder
as Christmas Choir Member
Mary G. Sims
as Christmas Choir Member
Wolodymyr Smishkewych
as Christmas Choir Member
Chris Sterling
as Christmas Choir Member
Nancy Tkacs
as Christmas Choir Member
Peter Zimmerman
as Christmas Choir Member
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News & Interviews for One True Thing

Critic Reviews for One True Thing

All Critics (61) | Top Critics (20) | Fresh (54) | Rotten (7)

Audience Reviews for One True Thing

  • Feb 06, 2012
    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.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 19, 2008
    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 M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 15, 2008
    The review by Marshall Fine is pretty accurate. The writing, acting and direction are top notch. My mom died of cancer, so it wasn't an easy film to watch. This movie has a lot to say, and what it has to say is worthwhile.
    Morris N Super Reviewer
  • Aug 10, 2007
    Renee Zellweger's best film role, made before she was a real name. Meryl Streep is also amazing as her dying mother.
    Sunil J Super Reviewer

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