Sunday, August 23, 2009

FILM: My One And Only

In the title sequence of My One And Only, vintage 1950 postcards from Boston, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Albuquerque, and Los Angeles are sequenced, artfully combined with period photos and symbols of those places, set to vintage music, all foreshadowing the charming period-piece road-trip movie that is to come. A beautiful sky-blue Cadillac Eldorado convertible is the vehicle for the cross-country trip, but the route is more a journey of self-discovery than just following Highway 66. Renee Zellweger is perfect as Anne Devereaux, a middle-aged but still beautiful southern belle who walks out on her womanizing band-leader husband (Kevin Bacon), taking her two sons with her, along with a handful of cash, and the fierce determination that she will find a better husband (and father for the boys). She meets a series of former beaus and prospective second husbands in a series of cities, but she also meets setback after setback, challenging her conviction that "things will always work out in the end". Nonetheless, she keeps her head high, and things do work out, though not in the way that she had expected. (Of course, another of Anne's aphorisms is that "a lady should never do what is expected.") Kevin Bacon, whom we see in the beginning, and who pops up at various other points, is great in his part as the charming but irresponsible ex-husband, and many of Anne's subsequent suitors are a parade of nicely done small roles by Steven Weber, Chris Noth, and Eric McCormack. Nick Stahl oozes James Dean / early Brando-esque charm in a bit as her quietly smoldering neighbor in Pittsburgh. But the other real star of the show is Logan Lerman, who plays her older son George, a young would-be writer whose favorite book is Catcher in the Rye, probably because he's strongly relating to Holden Caulfield's teenage angst. Lerman, whose character also narrates the film, gives an amazing performance of George's worldly savvy (some of it modeled on his father) and teenage pretend-self-confidence with self-searching vulnerability peeking through the cracks. In the beginning, George thinks his mother is silly, and he wants to go back to New York and his father. But as they journey together, he discovers less to admire about his father and eventually more to admire about his mother. It's a touching, thoughtful, and charming film, and like the Cadillac they drive, a classic American beauty to behold.

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