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My One and Only – Rating: B+

Submitted by on August 25, 2009 – 6:38 AMNo Comment
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Renee Zellweger’s Roadtrip to Self Discovery in My One and Only

The year is 1953, America is prosperous, I Love Lucy is a big hit and women are still defined by how good they look in a pinafore and apron while maintaining home and hearth. It is also the year Anne Devereaux (Renee Zellweger) leaves her philandering society bandleader husband (Kevin Bacon), purchases a baby-blue Cadillac Eldorado, and strikes out on a road trip with her two teenage boys in search of a new husband that will keep her in the lifestyle that she’s grown accustomed to. With her southern charm in tact and believing that her beauty can still captivate, Anne Devereaux is convinced that in a short time her quest will be a fait accompli. To her dismay, Anne quickly learns that eligible, financially set suitors are few and far between and though is she is still quite a looker, 1950s jet-set playboys prefer more nubile companions.

My One and Only is loosely based on the teenaged life of 1950s tanned, matinee idol George Hamilton. Portrayed as the more balanced and grounded of Anne’s two sons, George Devereaux aka Hamilton (Logan Lerman) must contend with his mother’s half- baked shenanigans while dealing with his own adolescent need for security, parental guidance and structure. All this is set against the backdrop of an era that marks the decline in big band music and the birth of rock and roll and America’s growing teen culture.

With the life philosophy, “Never look in the rearview mirror, you don’t want to know what is behind you,” director Richard Loncraine brilliantly sets up the arch and tone of this film and the character of Anne Devereaux. Throwing caution to the wind, Anne’s cross-country husband pursuit reduces her financial resources and reveals the cracks in her relationship with her sons. Although she soldiers on, Anne’s desperation escalates as she runs out of prospects. Because My One and Only does not make the mistake of overselling Anne Devereaux as a pre-feminist heroine, we get a glimpse into the humanity of a zany, cockeyed-optimist single mom who in spite of really bad parenting skills doggedly pursues a better life for herself and her sons.  In My One and Only, Loncraine has found that delicate balance between campy satire and the human struggle for validation and security. Although My One and Only is mostly a seamless compilation of adventuresome vignettes, Loncraine’s pace and narrative structure elevates this film from what could have been a pedestrian showcase for Renee Zellweger to an insightful ensemble film that entertains and juxtaposes city and rural life in the early 50s.

As Anne Devereaux, Zellweger expands on the charming southern belle archetype by bringing her inimitable, witty tongue-and-cheek delivery that was evident in Chicago, Down With Love, and the Bridget Jones’s Diary incarnations. A true comedienne, Zellweger understands how to coordinate gesture with dialogue to get the needed comedic effect. And Zellweger is also one the few bankable actresses who can turn a wink or shoulder shrug into a language.

Although My One and Only is a great vehicle for Zellweger, ultimately this film is about Devereaux’s teenage sons. As the effeminate older son, Robbie (Mark Rendall) is Devereaux’s confidante, stylist and routing section, recognizing that behind his mother’s flippant visage is a desperate woman whose beauty is fading.  Rendall brings nuance to a role that could have just been a campy send up of a gay teenager.

As George Devereaux, Logan Lerman has the difficult task of playing the straight man against an actress whose onscreen comedic persona is bigger than life. Lerman more than holds his own in this film and expands audience’s perception of what the iconic George Hamilton may have been like as a teenager.

Ultimately, My One and Only provides a funny, refreshing look at a bygone era when picking up your roots on a whim to seek fame and fortune seemed like a completely American thing to do. Oh, for the good ole days!!

brooklynsummerMy One and Only opened in select theaters on August 21 and stars Renee Zellweger, Kevin Bacon, Logan Lerman, Chris Roth, Eric McCormick, and Mark Rendall.

Beer Pairing: A Brooklyn Summer Ale is my recommendation for this movie because like “My One and Only” it is refreshing and flavorful without being too heavy. Brooklyn Summer Ale is a modern rendition of the “Light Dinner Ales” brewed in Englandbarley malt, which gives this light-bodied golden beer a fresh bready flavor. German and American hops lend a light, crisp bitterness and a citrus/floral aroma resulting in a beer with a very sunny disposition.