One and Only, The

The One and Only (15)

This ensemble comedy makes its base in Newcastle and centres on the live of a disparate set of folk all of whom are looking for love, stability and a sense of belonging.

From the quirky stable that has previously offered up the likes of Bedrooms and Hallways, If Only and This Year’s Love as opposed to Four Weddings and a Funeral or Notting Hill, The One and Only at first doesn’t look like much, but then takes you by surprise with the wit of its script (by Peter Flannery) and the humour in its performances.

Populated by an array of up-and-comers, second string character players and the occasional familiar face, it chronicles the ins and outs of the lives of five people: a young wife and her Italian soccer star husband (Justine Waddell and Jonathan Cake), a grieving thirtysomething kitchen fitter (Richard Roxburgh, from Moulin Rouge and TV’s recent Hound of the Baskervilles), an indolent skirt-chaser (Michael Hodgson) and the soccer wife’s tarty best mate (a revelatory Patsy Kensit).

A remake of the Danish romantic comedy Den Eneste Ene, The One and Only is that rare thing: a remake that actually succeeds. In terms of character development, Flannery and director Simon Cellan Jones have created an array of damaged individuals and soaked them in all the foibles, flaws and idiosyncracies that make people unique.

Throw in the vital element of love – Waddell falls for Roxburgh, Cake is bonking beautician Donna Air, Hodgson shows his ardour for Kensit with some sexual gymnastics before Cupid interjects – and this becomes a delicious little drama of La Ronde proportions.

Certainly handsome Australian Roxburgh and the lithe Waddell are major discoveries, sharing a discernible chemistry and great humour. Roxburgh, as the kitchen-obsessed, infertile wannabe dad, makes the best of Flannery’s joke-laden script, while Waddell, just 25, slim and fragile-looking, is set to rival Anna Friel as the UK’s gamine queen.

Both demonstrate a touching vulnerability as the cheated wife and grieving husband, the latter eliciting the female “Aaah!” factor as he struggle to communicate with and embrace an African child adopted before the sudden death of his wife. It’s a sub-plot vital to the ebb and flow of the film, and sets up Roxburgh (who hasn’t told the authorities that he’s now a struggling single dad) as the perfect focus of feminine support. There’s also a nice running gag over the child’s African name.

But the real find here is Hodgson, who wrings every ounce of humour out of the script. He’s absolutely bang on with the funny lines, while one particular sex scene with Kensit is as funny as ardour can get.

As for Kensit, so often draped around a film for decorative purposes, and whose acting has so frequently been damned as lame, she’s delightfully slutty as a Geordie single with an appetite for the wrong type of man. She’s curvier than normal, and looks good for it. She also evidently has a good time with the part and hits all the right notes with her accent.

The One and Only is a modest little flick and one that deserves to do well. If it comes to flipping a coin between this and something like Two Weeks Notice, do the right thing and make sure it’s heads for The One and Only.

Star rating: ***

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