Friday, October 5, 2012

By George: "My One and Only" (2009)

While this biopic chronicling the teen years of actor George Hamilton didn't exactly have the crowds groping for their Fandango app, "My One and Only" is as leisurely as its subject.

It's 1953 New York, and Anne (Renee Zellweger) discovers her band leader husband Dan (Kevin Bacon, resembling an emaciated William Forsythe) with yet another woman. Anne packs up her teen sons Robbie (Mark Rendall) and George (Logan Lerman) and heads to Boston.

Anne is a socialite who has never worked a day in her life, and does the only thing she knows how to do- look for a preferably rich man to take care of her. What follows is the weakest part of the film- Anne reconnects with old boyfriends and beaus, mostly consisting of television actors in cameo roles, with each encounter turning out worse than the one before.

Selfishly, Anne drags her sons across the country, and abrasive George, full of sarcasm and J.D. Salinger, begins to rebel. Dan is also following Anne, realizing he is not a very good father, but still wants to make amends.

The first half of the film is formulaic and dull. A routine pattern is followed, and boredom set in quickly. George is so obviously smarter than the rest of the world, and Anne is so obviously narcissistic, that I found it difficult to care about how they were going to survive and carry on. Once the family settles, and the TV cameo parade ended (Chris Noth as a psychotic anti-communist soldier...yawn), I found myself interested in Anne and her brood. Zellweger's too young for the role, and delivers many of her lines in a Marilyn Monroe-like breathless whisper, but she eventually won me over by exposing her character's flaws. Lerman plays every smart-ass fifteen year old boy to the hilt, all this life and drama is so beneath him.

Veteran director Loncraine stumbles with a number of scenes early on, since Peters' script gives the characters ready-made quips that don't ring true. Even George mentions that his mother had a tried-and-true saying for every situation, and this wears thin until the better second half, when the know-it-all facades drop. The art direction and costume design are impressive, as is Marco Pontecorvo's beautiful cinematography.

The title "My One and Only" refers to a hit song Dan wrote, and also the number of times I will end up sitting through this slightly enjoyable piece of frustration. (* * *) out of five stars.