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By Tom Meek | September 21, 1998

Anna Quindlen’s novel about a family affected by dysfunction and coping with cancer looks great in the hands of director Carl Franklin (“One False Move”), but Franklin’s efforts aren’t enough to raise the Quindlen’s manipulative material above it’s ordinary trappings. Renee Zellweger plays a New York City journalist about to hit the big-time until she’s beckoned town home by her over critical father (William Hurt) to nursemaid her cancer-stricken mother (Meryl Streep). Zellweger has a love/resent relationship with Hurt, a small-town college professor, who uses his time away from the homestead to carry on troubling, late-night dalliances. There’s a lot of Oscar timber here, and Streep and Hurt do a fine job, it’s just unsettling to watch them project the same persona that they have recycled on screen for the past decade. Conversely, Zellweger gives a rich performance, emoting dynamically in this otherwise hobbled melodrama with obvious “Terms of Endearment” pretensions.

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