The One and Only
2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
the one and only Yet another British romantic comedy that starts sharply and falls apart, despite the efforts of its gifted cast and crew. The story's set in Newcastle (every shot has a landmark in the background), where the kitchen-fitter Neil (Roxburgh) is struggling in his relationship to the controlling Jenny (O'Sullivan). They're trying to adopt a child ... while Neil tries to get up the courage to leave. Meanwhile, Stevie (Waddell) and her Italian footballer husband Sonny (Cake) are trying to get pregnant, even though Stevie suspects that Sonny is having an affair with her beauty therapist (Air). When Neil shows up to fit Stevie's new kitchen, it's love at first sight. But can it blossom amid all these complications?

Silly question. Especially since the writer just adds convenient plot turns that enable the characters to overcome whatever bumps come along (there are plenty). The first third of the film is actually enjoyable, as the lively premise, sparky dialog and fresh visual style draw us into the story. And the cast is very good, despite some wobbly accents. Roxburgh is so offhanded and natural that you can hardly believe this is the same guy who played the Duke in Moulin Rouge! And Waddell is charming and sassy as his romantic foil. The other characters are more cartoonish, especially the bawdy best friends (Hodgson and Kensit), who of course have their very own romantic subplot.

Then the corn starts kicking in--the love-at-first-sight lightning strike is just too much, the attempts at gross-out and/or sex comedy fall flat, the cuteness factor surges with the little West African adoptee (the impossibly cute Thomas) and we even get half-hearted attempts to deal with death and grief. The plot takes one clunky turn after another, up to a predictable, grisly and painfully awkward conclusion in an abortion clinic, of all places. While director Cellan Jones keeps the characters on track and maintains the vibrant imagery, he lets the story get away from him. And it's painful to watch the film fall to pieces in front of us.

cert 15 themes, language, sex 17.Feb.03

dir Simon Cellan Jones
scr Peter Flannery
with Richard Roxburgh, Justine Waddell, Jonathan Cake, Patsy Kensit, Michael Hodgson, Aisling O'Sullivan, Kerry Rolfe, Donna Air, Angel Thomas, Tracey Gillman, Trevor Fox, Joe Caffrey
release UK 21.Feb.03
02/UK 1h31

Making babies. Stevie and Sonny (Waddell and Cake) visit a doctor for fertility advice...

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R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... the one and only Lynda Bullock, Watford, Herts: 4/5 "Why have I read so many bad reviews of this? It's not a bad film. It has good characters, comedy, pathos and a happy ending! So what if the accents are slightly dodgy? You can get over that. And it makes a change to see a British film shot somewhere other than London or Manchester. Good cast. Some genuinely funny moments. Give it a go." (9.Sep.04)
2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall