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Ellen's hurt, we see, comes because her father, whom she admires, does not sufficiently show his love for her--while her mother, of whom she disapproves, has a love that is therefore unwelcome.

All of this begins to matter in the next months, as it develops that Kate has cancer, and George wants his daughter to move back home and take care of her. I have a career, Ellen argues.

One True Thing Official Trailer #1 - Meryl Streep Movie (1998) HD

He, of course, is too busy with midterms to take care of Kate. The family's younger brother, Brian Tom Everett Scott , must stay in school.

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Yes, a nurse could be hired, but the professor doesn't want a nurse poking around the house and disturbing his routine. Kate herself doesn't want Ellen to stay, but wasn't consulted by her husband or her daughter about the decision. As autumn winds down into winter, Ellen coexists in the house with a mother who is clearly demented in the area of domestic activities. She belongs to a local group named the Minnies, who decorate Christmas trees with the fury of beavers rebuilding a dam.

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The luncheon meetings of the Minnies could be photographed for layouts in food magazines, and of course the Minnies cook everything themselves. When Ellen breaks a piece of Kate's china, Kate asks her to save the pieces because she can use them in her mosaic table.

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Ellen finally tells Kate she thinks the Minnies are like a cult group. George, on the other hand, throws his daughter a bone; he asks her to write an introduction to his collected essays.

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She is flattered, although a little wounded that he then immediately asks her, in more or less the same spirit, to launder some shirts. Hurt and Streep are so well cast they're able to overcome the generic natures of their roles and make them particular people.

And Renee Zellweger, as Streep observed at the Telluride Film Festival, is able to create a place for herself and work inside it, not acting so much as fiercely possessing her character.

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Their turns have a rich vitality that is, for the most part, sorely lacking in the Oscar line-up. The good news is this category, even if it is among the weaker Best Actress line-ups, gets significantly more worthwhile beyond its winner.

Streep, by comparison, is really more of a Supporting player in the picture, alongside Hurt, also in terrific form. That she commands the screen as overwhelming as she does is especially impressive when one considers this was only her fourth feature film.

One True Thing

The picture, however, is something of a ball and chain on the performance. Both she and Griffiths are in riveting form as the du Pre sisters, two lives who make for a compelling biopic, except the film looks and feels a little too slick, small and soapy. Montenegro, a sublime character actor of the stage and screen who never made much of a dive into American cinema she remains the only Brazilian performer to garner an Oscar nomination , hits all of the right notes in her portrayal of Dora, a plenty challenging character to tackle.

Be sure to make your Oscar predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films and performers are faring in our odds.

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