My One and Only
Directed by Richard Loncraine
My One and Only is not a film concerned with a singular "one and only," but is rather a peppy production of dichotomies - and not one that balances very well. The teetering tones clash between screwball comedy vs. on-the-road family melodrama, coming-of-age tale vs. came-of-age tale, artifice vs. sincerity, and Renée Zellweger the actress vs. Renée Zellweger the annoyance.
Although My One and Only contains moments of self-awareness — including an opening combo of cheery retro-pop graphics mixed with a mushroom cloud — erstwhile TV-film director Richard Loncraine's weak vision could benefit from more clever juxtaposition and less wink-wink technique. Stuck in a limbo which registers as neither genuine nor ironic, My One and Only approaches its twinkling 1950s setting with a fair amount of adoration and not nearly enough illumination.
Occurring roughly within a twelve-month frame of (questionable Hollywood icon and perpetually tanned) George Hamilton's formative teenage years, this nostalgic throwback follows Upper West Side socialite-mama Anne (Renée Zellweger) as she leaves her philandering husband (Kevin Bacon, looking awfully weary) and takes off with her two sons — George Hamilton (Logan Lerman) and the exhaustively effeminate (we get it, filmmakers, he's gay) Robbie (Mark Rendall) — in a Cadillac convertible. An old-fashioned (and quickly aging) gold-digger with a heart of fool's gold in search of a new husband, Anne takes the precocious boys from Boston to Pittsburg to St. Louis to Los Angeles to THE AMERICAN DREAM (!?!). Among the multi-city adventures in thematic flip-flopping, the characters remain consistent, if one-note: detailed with obvious affectations yet grounded by adequate acting.
Zellweger's calculated performance registers as moderately successful, if only because Anne Deveraux is, on paper, such an inauthentic character (complete with failed moments of poignant loneliness, natch, where she talks to strangers at the bar about, well, loneliness). Despite her aphorism-laden, larger-than-life facade, she is rather flimsily written — a thin sketch of a wronged woman who will gladly zip up her husband's mistress' dress before hitting the road. She's no Blanche DuBois — not nearly as complex, compelling or believable. Anne is simply a lemon-faced Barbie doll model for feminism in the 50s.
In order to find this portrait of a bright boy with a glamour-whore mother unique — or significant in any way — one would have to believe George Hamilton is some sort of Hollywood treasure. Therefore, the audience for such a project is likely smaller than the queue at an early bird buffet — and they would be snacking on a deceptively colorful concoction of blandness. Certainly, My One and Only distinctly represents old-fashioned filmmaking — and that includes all the strengths and flaws of its cinematic era: forced wit, random melodrama, and simplistic representations of class, gender, and race. Too often, the acting is more focused on the speed of a one-liner than plausible human behavior. It's the type of inconsequential fluff that would fear eliciting a stronger reaction than an elderly-sounding "well, that was nice." After all, there is a reason why this style of cinema faded away. As one of its mealy-mouthed characters might state, My One and Only is "occasionally charming, but not terribly interesting."
Opens August 21