One True Thing (1998): Carl Franklin’s Family Melodrama, Starring Meryl Streep, Renee Zellweger, and William Hurt

Carl Franklin’s conventional family melodrama, One True Thing, tells the story of a young career woman, Ellen Gulden (Renee Zellweger), who is forced to put her life on hold in order to take care of her dying mother, Ellen (Meryl Streep), who is dying of cancer.

Karen Croner’s script was adapted from Anna Quindlen‘s novel, which is based on the author’s real-life struggle with her mother, who died from ovarian cancer in 1972.

Despite sensitive writing, warm acting, and strong technical values, One True Thing (the way that Ellen’s father, played by William Hurt, describes his love for his wife and muse) never really rises above the level of a well-executed TV-Movie-of-the-Week.

Bette Midler sings the title song, “My One True Friend,” over the end credits.