Additional information for One True Thing, which has a domestic theatrical release set for September 18, 1998. The film is being distributed by Universal Pictures and has not yet been rated. One True Thing has a total running time of 127 minutes.
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A career woman reassesses her parents' lives after she is forced to care for her cancer-stricken mother.
A very true movie. So true I could not watch it until now. From someone who has been there, seen it, lived through it, I can say it was written by someone who was there as well. The story is of a young woman, Ellen (Renee Zellweger) who comes home for the weekend from her busy life in the city and with a possible writing career in front of her to find out from her father (William Hurt) that her mother, Kate (Meryl Streep) is ill. She is about to have cancer surgery and he expects that she will drop her life and come home to take care of her mother. She will need help after the surgery and the following chemotherapy. Ellen does not know what to think. She is a writer, as her father, an english professor, does he not understand what her life and future career mean to her? She has never seen self sacrifice before, or so she thinks. As her mother grows ever weaker Ellen gets a glimpse into her mother's life. She is involved with the community on special ocassions, she refinishes furniture, makes curtains, cooks everything wonderful, and even comforts friends in times of challenge, but most important of all, she makes her husband's life possible. At first Ellen tries to step into her mother's shoes and has a tough time for she is more like her father, she writes, she doesn't cook, clean, and comfort. Soon she finds her mother's shoes are a lot harder to fill than she ever realized. As she gets better at caring for her mother and the home front she realizes just how little her father does at home. Many of us see what many probably don't see, he is not completely self-scentered he simply can't imagine his life without her and can not be around to watch her fade.Ellen does not know this, at one point she believes he is having an affair and becomes very angry with him. She believes all he can do is think about himself. At Thanksgiving her father surprises everyone by bringing home two writers he admires, seemingly oblivious to the fact that this might well be his family's last Thanksgiving together. He asks that his wife whip up some great appetizers, as though she were in any shape to do so, which leaves Ellen to make them. Ellen is enraged with the unexpected visitors, famous or not, she wanted a quiet family Thanksgiving. Ellen becomes confrontational at every turn with her father. He wants everything to remain the same, he's not willing to help out with anything, and to top it all off, she believes when he calls to say he is working late that he is with "the other woman" who drops him off in front of the house later that evening. Ellen finally has a bitter confrontation with her father in a diner that ends up with him walking away stating that she will no longer be needed she can return to the city. Before this can even be discussed her mother is hospitalized. They are told the cancer has spread and there no need to continue therapy, all they can do now is make her comfortable.Her mother has noticed what is happening with Ellen and her father and calls her into a room to talk. She looks Ellen in the face and tells her that she does not know anything about her husband that she doesn't know. Life and marriage changes as it moves along and you find yourself accepting things you told yourself you'd never do. That it can be unbearable at one point and joyous the next. That you reach a point where if you remove someone from your life all it does is leave is a great big hole in your life, you live for your family, the ones you love. She then tries to tell Ellen things she might need for later in life and Ellen does not want to hear them. Her mother begins to cry and tells her that she's tired of people not letting her talk when she wants to talk, when Ellen agrees, she thinks a minute then says, I said it already.Ellen is charged with caring for her mother and giving her pains pills, morphine, now that the pain is much worse. Even though Ellen knows she's dying, and that she is in a wheel chair, and that a nurse comes in to help her, all these facts are really made quite clear when her mother calls out for the nurse who is not there and Ellen enters the bathroom to find her mother in the tub unable to get out. For the first time she is not seeing her bulky sweaters and cap; she sees her mother with her half bald head and barely covered bones. She is so skinny that Ellen can easily lift her from the tub. At that moment Ellen realizes exactly what is happening; to know something is one thing, to see it is almost too real. After she gets her mother settled into her chair she asks Ellen for a pain pill, as she takes it she whimpers, "This is no way to live" in her weakened voice that tells volumes. She asks Ellen to help her make it stop,Ellen's mother is now staying down stairs in a hospital bed. When she sleeps you hear her struggling to breathe, eating is no more, drinking is barely so, and talking is barely so. Then we see Ellen take out the small dish we all have for our cancer victims to put a little bit of applesauce to try in vein to get them to eat anything, and to help get medications down. Then she takes out the morphine and begins to smash the pills, first one, then another, then another. Then stands there knowing she can't do this. As much as she knows it would be a kindness, as much as she knows it would make it easier for her mother she can not do it.Her father comes home early, Ellen takes a bath and when she comes down we see her father wash out a small dish, wipe it and put it back in the cupboard. He tells Ellen, "your mother says this is not living, and she was right." Ellen goes into to be with her mother and finds awake and she tells her, "I love you." In the morning Ellen's father comes downstairs to find Ellen holding her mother's hand and staring, he realizes she is gone.Throughout the movie we have seen Ellen telling a man the story of her mother's illness but we don't know who he is, a greif counselor? A priest? It is a man wanting to know how Ellen's mother died of an overdose. Ellen has been providing stories that make it impossible for her father to be responsible, while not implicating herself either.In the last scene Ellen is at her mother's grave planting bulbs in the freshingly dug up soil. Her father approaches her and watches what she is doing and asks her how it went. She tells him it went fine that the man will also want to speak to him as well. Her father then says he admires Ellen's strength, he wanted to do it but could not. Ellen hears him but it doesn't sink in right away. She finally lifts her head and says, "I didn't do it, I thought you did it." They both take a moment and then shake their heads while stating, "oh, she couldn't have, she was too weak!" Ellen's father then shares how much he loved her, that she made his world warm and comfortable, she was his One True Thing. As the movie concludes her father attempts to help plant the bulbs and they work the soil together.
One True Thing
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This film does not have a selected cast.
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