Twice I’ve told people that Richard Loncraine’s My One and Only is a kind of biopic about George Hamilton’s teenage life—and twice I’ve been asked, “Why would I be interested in that?” The truth is that I really haven’t an answer, but—a couple of in-jokes about sun and tans to one side—you don’t have to know or care anything about George Hamilton in order to enjoy this surprisingly entertaining little movie that will remind you why you once liked Renée Zellweger, whose character is the actual focus of the film.
The film, set in a nicely detailed 1953, is essentially a period road movie following a mother and her two sons. The mother is Anne Deveraux (Zellweger), who, upon discovering her bandleader husband Dan (Kevin Bacon) in bed with another woman, decides to set out for a new life with her children, George (Logan Lerman, Gamer) and Robbie (Mark Rendall, 30 Days of Night). It doesn’t matter that Anne is completely non-maternal or that they have very little money. In her mind, she’s an aristocratic Southern belle and she’s going to do all this in style—including a brand new Cadillac. Do what? Well, the only thing she knows how to do: find another wealthy husband. This, of course, turns out to be easier in theory than in actual practice.
The journey takes us through an unusual array of men—one who’s actually wanting to hit Anne up for money, one who’s an authoritarian control freak, one who prefers a newer model than Anne, one who’s a genial nut case etc.—and an equally outré series of little adventures. None of it is particularly groundbreaking, and the obligatory life lessons, while nicely interwoven and understated, are fairly standard. But the film has a witty screenplay by Charlie Peters (Music From Another Room). No movie where a brazen adulterer defends his wife by countering his paramour’s claim of, “It’s not what it looks like” by saying, “Of course, it’s what it looks like. My wife’s not an idiot,” is lacking in wit. And the direction is stylish, but unfussy.
Characters and performances really carry the movie. The fact that George’s half-brother Robbie is clearly and flamboyantly gay without it being an issue is refreshing. That Zellweger captures every nuance of her self-entitled Southern belle without becoming unsympathetic is frankly remarkable. But then nearly all the characters—with the exception of Chris Noth’s hateful control freak—are observed with a degree of sympathy and with some of the most unforced quirkiness you’ll encounter this year. Really, don’t let this small delight escape your notice. Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language.