Renee Zellweger as Ellen Gulden plays the daughter of Kate and George (Meryl Streep and William Hurt). I think Renee did a great job and should have been recognized for her part in One True Thing. When Ellen’s mother, Kate, becomes stricken with cancer, her father asks Ellen to quit her job in New York to nurse her mother during this critical time. Although Ellen is not happy to have her life turned upside down, she agrees to her father’s wishes.
At home, Ellen has a close-up look at her parents’ lives and learns a great deal that she had never noticed when she was younger. George is a successful college professor, the head of his department, and spends many evenings away from home with his workload at the college. Renee takes over a lot of the chores for her father that her mother has always done, reminding him of meetings, doing his laundry, the cooking and household chores, and making her father’s busy life run smoothly.
Resentment sets in and Ellen suspects that her father’s evenings are being spent with another woman. She sees a woman dropping him off at home on the nights when he has worked late. George has been writing a novel for several years and had asked a successful writer friend to read it. When the writer is invited to the house for Thanksgiving (which might be the last one for the family), the friend states that he had forgotten about the novel and had not read it. George is thoroughly disappointed.
Ellen sees her father as completely absorbed in his own life and not caring that she is taking the brunt of her mother’s care. The truth is that her father is escaping the reality of his wife’s sickness by concentrating on his work and career and staying away from the house. When Kate worsens one evening Ellen is sent to find her father who is sitting alone in a tavern. She brings her father home, but not without noticing first that a tavern across the street is called “Come Back Inn,” which is the title of George’s book.
The two suffer through the last days of their loved one’s life, each wishing they could end her suffering. You do not want to know the last fifteen minutes of the movie; I will not spoil it for you. It was an excellent movie though it was not a tearjerker for me. I enjoy every film that Meryl Streep is in.
Every time she is in a movie, Meryl Streep is nominated for an Academy Award. Yes, she was nominated for her role in One True Thing for the Academy Award as well as the Golden Globe, the Screen Actors Guild Award, and the Satellite Award. She holds the record for the most Academy Award nominations at 16; she has won the Academy Award twice. I believe she is the greatest living actress in my time.
Movie – One True Thing (1998)