Thursday, November 12, 2009

Movie Review: My One and Only

My One and Only ***
Directed By:
Richard Loncraine.
Written By: Charlie Peters.
Starring: Renée Zellweger (Anne Deveraux), Logan Lerman (George Devereaux), Mark Rendall (Robbie), Kevin Bacon (Dan Devereaux), David Koechner (Bill Massey), Eric McCormack (Charlie), Chris Noth (Dr. Harlan Williams), Molly C. Quinn (Paula), Nick Stahl (Bud), Steven Weber (Wallace McAllister), Robin Weigert (Hope), J.C. MacKenzie (Tom), Troy Garity (Becker), Phoebe Strole (Wendy).

You would be forgiven for thinking that a movie entitled My One and Only was a love story. I guess in a way, it is, but not in the typical Hollywood fashion. My One and Only focuses on the relationship between a son and his mother, and in that way, the title really is relevant. Friends, lovers, even husbands and wives seem to come and go a lot, but no matter how long you live, you only ever have one mother.

It is 1953, and Anne Deveraux (Renne Zellweger) is married to band leader Dan (Kevin Bacon). She is a Southern Belle with a taste for the finer things, but has finally tired of Dan’s constant playing around on her. She cleans out their bank accounts, buys a car, and takes her two sons – Robbie (Mark Rendall), a product of her first marriage and George (Logan Lerman), Dan’s son, with her on her cross country odyssey in search of yet another husband to take care of her. There seems to be no shortage of prospects, because she has many former “beaus” and they are all apparently still sweet on her. Over the course of the movie – which spans about 4 months – she will become engaged twice and entangled with several other men, as they make stops in Boston, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and finally Los Angeles. She isn’t a slut – even though she does get busted for solicitation once (it was a misunderstanding), but rather an old fashioned woman in a time when they were being left behind for a newer model.

The key relationship in the movie though is not between Anne and any of her suitors, but between Anne and her son George. Her oldest son Robbie is quite obviously gay, and adores his mother, willingly following her anywhere she goes. But George is different. He liked New York, and the stability that it provided. He knew his parents’ marriage wasn’t perfect, but he liked it there anyway. He resents the fact that his mother uprooted him, and continues to do so throughout the movie every time he starts to find a little bit of stability in his new hometown. He loves his mother, but at the same time kind of hates her as well. He just wants a normal life.

The movie is really Renee Zellweger’s show, and she delivers one of her best performances in it. She is pretty much perfect as a woman who is all confidence, beauty and smiles on the surface, but is really falling apart inside. She has always had a man to take care of her, and she really does not know how else to function in the world. Now though, she is pushing 40, has two teenage sons, and the men she attracts are not the type of men that she wants in her life. Zellweger, an actress I have always had a love/hate relationship with, is excellent here. The rest of the cast is able in support, but this is Zellweger’s film.

By its very nature, the film is episodic, never really resting too long in one place. The director Richard Loncraine does an excellent job of recreating the decadence of the 1950s, which hides a darker reality underneath. This is more than just costume design and art direction – although both of those are perfect in this film – but rather it is about generating a feeling to the movie that he does wonderfully well. Loncraine is a talented director – his version of Richard III with Ian McKellan is one of the best Shakespeare adaptations in history – and this is one of his better films.

I found out after watching the movie that George Hamilton is the producer of the film, and the film is based on his life with his mother during the 1950s. Younger readers probably have never heard of Hamilton, but he is somewhat Hollywood royalty, despite the distinct disadvantage of never having been really excellent in any of his many films. But thinking back over this film, it helps to describe Hamilton’s persona really well. It is possible to like the film without knowing anything about the real life Hamilton – I enjoyed it never suspecting until the last scene in the film I was watching anything resembling a “biopic”, but the film certainly adds another layer if you know Hamilton. All of sudden, you realize why Hamilton has always seemed so gosh darned nice.

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