One True Thing (1998) - Rotten Tomatoes

One True Thing1998

One True Thing (1998)



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

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
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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
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Paul Schroeder
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Mary G. Sims
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Wolodymyr Smishkewych
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Chris Sterling
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Critic Reviews for One True Thing

All Critics (61) | Top Critics (20)

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…
Top Critic

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

April 12, 2002 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

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

May 11, 2001

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…

Streep and Hurt, two of the best gestural actors working, let the showboating tics fly fast and thick.

January 1, 2000

Franklin seems ill-suited to this cast and this material.

January 1, 2000

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
Nicki Marie

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.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer


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

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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