2 Stars - Shallow
The unusual childhood of actor George Hamilton is the basis for Richard Loncraine’s film “My One and Only.” As executive producer of the film, Hamilton is said to have been emotionally moved upon seeing the film as he remembered his close, yet conflicted relationship with his beautiful mother Ann Stevens and his struggles which eventually led to his celebrity life the year she divorced his father, George William (Spike) Hamilton. Upon finding the unfaithful bandleader in bed with his female singer, Ann loaded her two sons into a newly purchased vehicle and travelled to visit all of her past beaus to find a husband. This is the theme on which the film is built.
Written by Charlie Peters (Blame It On Rio), the film changes the names and details of the trip taken by Ann Deveraux (Renée Zellwegger), but catches the journey to self discovery for Ann and her sons George (Logan Lerman) and Robbie (Mark Rendall). Ann and Dan Deveraux (Kevin Bacon) are self-absorbed and shallow people who have provided little parental care for their sons as well as neglected their commitment to their marriage.
The messages of the film are obvious: you can seldom go back to earlier relationships however you may fantasize about them; if you can’t take care of yourself then you have little to offer someone else; if you are self-absorbed you cannot express your love for someone else even when you try; and the path one’s life takes is as much a result of others’ decisions as one’s own.
However, the disappointment Ann experiences when she reconnects with the men who had asked to marry her two decades earlier allows her to begin to realize her own strength. No longer relying only on her beauty and class, Ann’s transformation is the central message of the film, with George and his brother Robbie being witnesses of her growth. That this growth occurred as a result of her husband’s unfaithfulness and the loss of their marriage is an all-too-familiar reality.
The primary weakness of the film is in its lack of character development of everyone except for Ann and so it ends up reinforcing stereotypes. But even with this weakness, the film gives us a small window into the early life of George Hamilton and how he became the person he now is.
Discussion for those who have seen the film:
The title of the film is based on the hit song of George’s father and expresses both the humor and the irony of the marriage and of George’s life. It is obvious that the events of his childhood impacted the way George lived his life. How has your childhood impacted your life?
It is difficult to understand how celebrities become who they are with all their various idiosyncrasies without knowing how they got that way. How does this film give insight into George Hamilton’s life?
When George’s brother fails his film test, it was only momentarily disconcerting. Have you found your failures to be so easily transformed?