Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 25
  2. Negative: 1 out of 25
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  1. Though Mom is ditzy and, at times, irritating, we come to recognize her as the family's most original creative spirit.
  2. A beautifully rich performance by Meryl Streep, [18 September 1998, p. 57]
  3. 80
    An uplifting, superbly acted and intelligent family drama.
  4. One True Thing demonstrates that the power of simple things, the transcendent nature of the ordinary, can make for riveting filmmaking.
  5. A formulaic family melodrama whose craftsmanship and sensitivity to its characters raises it to the level of sublime group portrait.
  6. This is not a happy tale, and its ending will have moviegoers reaching for every handkerchief they can find. But its compassion is as clear as the talents of the folks who made it.
  7. 75
    It is the craftsmanship that elevates One True Thing above the level of a soaper.
  8. Thrown into exalted company, Zellweger easily holds her own in the film's most difficult role.
  9. 75
    Although the plot rarely excels, the actors bring enough to their roles to transform this motion picture into a satisfying weeper.
  10. 75
    When we first see Meryl Streep's happy homemaker in One True Thing, she's a domestic dinosaur circa late '80s, a regular mommy monster. [18 September 1998, p.3E]
  11. Admirably restrained melodrama.
  12. 70
    It's a film whose virtues--particularly its rare, intelligent portrayal of the relationship between two generations of women--outweigh its faults.
  13. 70
    The framing story is pointless and almost insulting, even though it's part of former New York Times columnist Anna Quindlen's novel.
  14. 70
    In a confused world, this is a movie with answers.
  15. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    As sensitively written, fluidly directed and expertly acted as it is, and as elemental as its dramatic conflicts may be, One True Thing has trouble breaking free of its limitations as a small-scale, modestly aimed family drama.
  16. Bluntly, poignantly believable.
  17. In the end, One True Thing suggests, families can be healed even in loss. This may not be a true thing, but at least this emotional drama offers up hope, sweet like one of Kate Gulden's tasty cakes.
  18. You may find yourself weeping toward the end, and, later, you may also find yourself wondering why. The revelations are staggeringly obvious.
  19. 60
    The vicarious catharsis offered by this adaptation of Anna Quindlen's novel is as efficient as that of any family-affected-by-illness drama.
  20. Reviewed by: Tom Meek
    Hobbled melodrama with obvious "Terms of Endearment" pretensions.
  21. Quindlen's book is wry and deeply sad in its prose, but watching actors run this very simple maze is significantly less entertaining, or convincing.
  22. 50
    No matter how tactful and sensitive Franklin's direction, he has made himself complicit in a polarization that panders to anti-intellectual populism even as it caters to women's movement backlash.
  23. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    The movie's themes are enormously resonant, which makes its doddering tastefulness that much more frustrating.
  24. 40
    This might have worked if the director and lead actress had the kind of intense mutual understanding that, say, Ingmar Bergman had with Liv Ullmann, or John Cassavetes had with Gena Rowlands.
  25. 38
    Even director Carl Franklin, an artful purveyor of sterner stuff in "One False Move" and "Devil in a Blue Dress," can't prevent One True Thing from descending into chick-movie hell.

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