During my days in graduate school, I have never seen a girl from my country who was neither not engaged (nor not married) nor did not land with a boy friend within their first six months from the day they landed. I have to state here that in the Indian community, dating officially was not in the slates though performed in varying modes. One of my good roommates had a theory on it which borderlines on sexist yet it seems to be true in most cases. His theory was that girls especially moving far away from their home needed a man figure; a consolation of being secure despite the fact that the guy is simply in the same state as them, homesick, lonely and on their own. I used to think that is how the gene is conditioned that it needs to be put in Darwin’s natural selection theory. Renée Zellweger as Anne Devraux is one such in “My One and Only” as the 1950’s woman finding to lead a life away from her husband Dan Devraux (Kevin Bacon).
Of course the dependency is due to the history of the conditioning beginning from the birth of a human being as long as any one could remember. This film circumspect the life of any without the monotony and fill it with adventure. Anne leaves her womanizing and popular husband of hers Dan with her kids, George (Logan Lerman) and Robbie (Mark Randall). For Anne leaving Dan means leaving the city. Dan knows that she cannot survive on her own. She never had a job or never wanted one. Always been in the nicety of men and being the pretty blonde, she had her life changed around them. She is depending on it, only that she is a mother of two young boys in their late teenage years. Both are smart mouthed and mainly work well together.
It begins as a mediocre film with the promise of not so much achievability in its mark. It gives the presumption that it is going to settle for something nominal and feasible. We begin to chuckle at the blind confident Anne has in finding a home and secure their existence. With enough cash to find her the man, they begin with Boston. She bumps into old loves and denied offers of marriage. Either the youth and charm are gone in them or they want to sleep with her right away without any strings or her target is too young. Through this her sons take it with bitter sarcasm, George especially who is the son of Dan wants to go back and continue living with his dad in New York. But Anne has decided it this time, to take it as far as she could.
For a fight about a woman’s survival in men dominated era, “My One and Only” is soft and merciful. The emotional distress and the financial hurt over these three are lessened by the glow of the costumes, how much ever true it reflects their state. Anne leaves the town as soon as the prospect of a good husband falters. And seeing his mother being constantly destroyed in humiliation disgusts George and he shows it in small bullets in tone and attitude. It soon becomes a powerful confrontation and a scene in the later part of the film.
The movie runs parallel to the classic of Martin Scorsese “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”. In that Ellen Burstyn as a single mother goes from city to city in the pursuit of a career and a good childhood for her son. She though wants to find a job and a man too, only in that order. Anne out here learns the concept in a hard way. She gets the lesson from her son. Zellweger gives one of her best performances as this woman relying on her looks and mushiness to get through the reality. And when she is broken down, it is sad to see even through her materialistic outlook. She does enough to laugh at her but as audience we still feel for her when she crumbles due to being stood up or ignored miserably or even arrested due to misunderstanding.
But every small role is a work of precision, very easily might go by unnoticed. As the annoyed and sarcastic kid, Logan Lerman is sharp and in control. As his half brother Robbie, Mark Rendall is the pet character for the audience. Between their chemistry, their work on the commentary towards their mother’s hunt and the men she meets up with is hilarious and forms camaraderie in their kinship. And as Anne’s jealous and piercing sister Hope, Robin Weigert is the aunt every one should have seen in their family.
Anne is not even close in fulfilling the basic attributes of a mother and George is getting fed up with this game of hers. Anne learns that the dependency in her needs an adjustment as there are two fully aware sons who need her to stop doing this. “My One and Only” is a film which has characters in their bests and worst. They are irresponsible, honest in their feelings and see the path they destroyed with regrets and relief. We learn their history through the smallest encounters. Every situation though known gets played with a human plausibility to it. There is the scene when George knowing that the dad he knows would not take him back to New York goes to meet him but Kevin Bacon’s Dan tells a truth which is not perfect yet sees him as this helpless failed father. We see why Dan and Anne are completely unfit for themselves and as parents. The difference is both begin to realize and start trying in their own ways. Only one of them succeeds and other is broken. “My One and Only” is a film not widely known and did not get good distribution, but when I begin to look back for the best films of 2009, it would most possibly get my nod.