Mother, sons, come of age in funny, affectionate ‘My One And Only’
Nobody has ever mistaken George Hamilton for a serious actor—including himself. Indeed, his self-deprecating sense of humor has served him well throughout a long career that began as a male starlet in the early 1950s and segued well into the age of irony, where Hamilton is best known for his killer tan, and comedy spoofs like Zorro, The Gay Blade. So it’s not surprising to find so much sly wit and affectionate good humor in My One And Only, a fictionalized memoir produced by Hamilton about his own teen years with his eccentric, yet intrepid, mother.
Directed by Richard Loncraine, from an entertaining script by Charlie Peters, the film stars Renée Zellweger as the redoubtable Anne Devereaux. Blonde and creamy, in her perfect white gloves, high heels, and pillbox hats, she’s a transplanted southern belle living the high life of a pampered socialite in New York City—until the day in 1953 that she walks in on her bandleader husband, Dan Devereaux (Kevin Bacon), in bed with one of his other women.
Stopping at the bank to clean out her safety deposit box, Anne hands a wad of cash to her 15-year-old son, George (a very appealing Logan Lerman) with instructions to buy a car. Soon enough, they’re on the road in a spanking new Cadillac convertible (practical George in the driver’s seat), along with George’s “sensitive” half-brother, Robbie (a fine, droll turn by Mark Rendall), Anne’s son by a previous husband, for a coming-of-age road trip of epic proportions.
Anne hasn’t had much hands-on experience at mothering; she doesn’t even know what school her sons attend. She’s not particularly interested in whether they want to leave their lives behind and light out for the territory with her, and she has little idea what it will mean to take financial and emotional responsibility for two teenage boys. Her only game plan is to find herself a new husband, and a new father for the boys, to take care of them all—a process that proves to be not nearly as easy for Anne as it once was.
From Boston to Philadelphia to St. Louis and points west, Anne charts a precarious course between old flames, chance encounters, and reluctant relations, looking for a place for the family to take root and start over. Her suitors prove disappointing: a horn dog expecting to buy sex with dinner and a bottle of champagne; a failed businessman looking for a loan; a rigid colonel (Chris Noth) who gives George an ominous speech about being the “top dog;” a genial bigamist (David Koechner). Striking up an innocent conversation with a stranger in a bar one night, Anne is arrested for “soliciting.” And as the family fortunes dwindle (or they are swindled out of them), their lodgings devolve from swanky hotels to seedy motor inns.
This material could easily be the stuff of melodrama. But the film’s tone combines optimism, humor, and sympathy with a surprising amount of grit as Anne learns to take care of herself. Best of all is the always tender and affectionate relationship between Anne and the sons who adore her, however exasperating or impractical her behavior. (“Do you think Mom is crazy?” wonders George, to which Robbie sighs, “I can’t tell. She’s the only one I’ve ever had.”) Peters’ dialogue is tart and funny. When Anne wants to know what sort of “guy stuff” George talks about with his dad, Robbie helpfully suggests, “Women, guns, ice-fishing.”
Lerman and Rendall are both excellent as responsible George and fey, self-possessed Robbie, coming to grips with their roles as surrogate parents shepherding their wayward mom into her own belated adulthood. The vintage cars, clothes, and décor are delectable. And the family’s ultimate arrival in Los Angeles, and the antic chance by which George—of all people—is offered a studio contract, concludes the saga on a typically cheerful note of self-effacing irony. Watch Trailer
MY ONE AND ONLY ★★★
With Renée Zellweger, Logan Lerman, Mark Rendall and Kevin Bacon. Written by Charlie Peters.
Directed by Richard Loncraine. A Freestyle release.
Rated PG-13. 108 minutes.