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One True Thing explores one of the greatest mysteries facing a young man or woman – their parents. The film, about a mother, a father and their daughter, stars Meryl Streep, William Hurt and Renee Zellweger; for director Carl Franklin, this was new and challenging territory, as he explains in this extract from the production notes:

One True Thing is based on Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Anna Quindlen’s 1995 novel of the same name. Lauded for her probing social issue column in the New York Times in the 1980s, Quindlen turned to fiction in the 1990s. With One True Thing, the story of a high-powered New York writer forced home under difficult circumstances, Quindlen demonstrated her ability to bring humor, insight and honesty to some of the most highly emotional and personal conflicts facing children and parents — not least of all, understanding one another.

"Universal theme of parents and children learning from one another’s lives"

When producer Harry Ufland first read Quindlen’s novel, he was moved by the universal theme of parents and children learning from one another’s lives. "I thought Anna had written an extraordinary story about mother-daughter and father-daughter relationships," says Ufland. "She really got to the core of this idea that few people really understand their parents even if they think they do."

Ufland interviewed dozens of screenwriters before establishing a lengthy collaboration with Karen Croner.

Croner gave the film version a unique voice, setting the story firmly in the 1980s when so many career women came of adult age. "I was fascinated by how the novel depicted the enormous difference between these two generations of women, the stay-at-home mother and the ambitious, working daughter and I decided to focus on that relationship. I also wanted it to be about life, about how a daughter comes to life as she comes to know her mother before it’s too late."

Croner adds: "I wanted the screenplay to ask the questions how do you love your parents, despite their terrible advice, their weaknesses? How can you take what’s positive about them and leave behind what you can’t accept? Being able to do that is what growing up is about." For Carl Franklin, the story presented an opportunity to tackle a film unlike any he has directed. Best known for the acclaimed independent feature One False Move and the moody, stylish Devil in a Blue Dress, Franklin might have been an unlikely choice for ONE TRUE THING -- except that his passion for the project was unsinkable. The story was clearly in keeping with one of his foremost concerns: the importance of family and community in diverse American lives.

"I was deeply moved" director Carl Franklin

"I read the script on a plane and I just couldn’t stop crying," says Franklin, a man who doesn’t look as though he is a sop, with his expressive eyes, a small beard and a look that would work on a black drug shark (no offence, Carl). "I was deeply moved not only by the characters but because here was a screenplay that really delved into the primary relationship between men and women, mothers and daughters, fathers and daughters — the relationships that are so fundamental to contemporary life and who we are."

Franklin was particularly fascinated by the antagonistic relationship between Ellen and Kate Gulden — two vibrant women of different generations who have led very different lives, each unfathomable to the other. Between Ellen and Kate is a chunk of anger and misunderstanding that turns under pressure into a surprising respect and love.

"...a common problem between daughters"

"Ellen has never really valued her mother," Franklin comments, "and I think this is a common problem between daughters and mothers of this generation. Until she goes back home, Ellen just sees her mother as shallow but she doesn’t realize all the intelligence, wisdom, responsibility and care that are just under the surface. And what

Kate teaches Ellen is that the most important thing is to really be alive in this world and heal yourself and your relationships while you can."

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