One True Thing


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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Critic Reviews

  1. Though Mom is ditzy and, at times, irritating, we come to recognize her as the family's most original creative spirit.
  2. New York Daily News
    Reviewed by: Jami Bernard
    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. USA Today
    Reviewed by: Susan Wloszczyna
    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. 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.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 9 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Jun 20, 2016
    I recently discovered this on a library DVD. I never heard of it and therefore had no preconcieved ideas about it-how did the critics react,I recently discovered this on a library DVD. I never heard of it and therefore had no preconcieved ideas about it-how did the critics react, etc. What a shame this one went by my radar because I would have loved to see it on the big screen (and in 1998 it would have been in 35mm). Streep plays the mother and housewife that allows her husband Bill Hurt be a selfish academic who is more concerned with his place in the literary world than of his beloved wife's eminent death from cancer. So much so he insists
    that his daughter(Zellwiger) simply drop her good job in NYC and come home and take care of her mother-as it turns out-so he can remain in HIS job, feeling the important man of letters and grabbing the occasional young coed for some "private tutoring." I always hear Streep is the actress's actress, one of the best, etc but I really never appreciated why until this movie. She simply embodies this selfless woman who looks the other way while her husband "works late, has a late class". The scene where the poet laureate pays a suprise visit says so much about him-apparently the poet at one time praised his first novel (which meant a lot to Hurt ) only to find that years later the poet didn't even remember the book-quite the slap in the face to the would-be great author that he thought he was.
    I thought it was going to be another uninspired library dvd night-what a suprise this delightful film was...maybe someday it will be revivied-at a Streep retrospective in NYC or something-I'd love to see it on a big screen with an audience. Probably won' t happen-and that's too bad.
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