Sunday, October 26, 2014

What's Eating Gilbert Grape

Movie Name: What's Eating Gilbert Grape
Year of Release: 1993
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Stars: Johnny Depp, Juliette Lewis, Mary Steenurgen, Leonardo DiCaprio, Darlene Cates, Laura Harrington, Mark Kate Schellhardt, Kevin Tighe, John C. Reilly, Crispin Glover, Penelope Branning, Tim Green
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8

When "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" came out in 1993, Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom had made a name for himself primarily with his Oscar nominated feature "My Life as a Dog" (and to a lesser extent with the poorly received "Once Around"). The film, an adaptation of Peter Hedges' novel, follows the story of young Gilbert, who's the main provider for his family, which includes his larger than life mother Bonnie, and his siblings, amongst whom is Arnie, a sweet disabled young man. When the beautiful and free spirited Becky and her grandmother go through the small town, their presence and the relationship that ensues between Gilbert and Becky, forces him to question himself, what he wants and how he sees his life.
Lasse Hallstrom has always been at his best when he captures the anguish of young protagonists who want to break free from the constraints they suffer (as can be seen in his later films, such as "The Cider House Rules"). "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" successfully captures the mood and environment of living in a small town, where the opportunities to grow and experience life are limited, something that the central character realizes. Gilbert is a young man who longs for more, but knows his family life prevents him from truly experiencing more from life - the presence of Becky is a catalyst for everything he's always wanted. Lasse Hallstrom successfully captures these fantastic performances: Johnny Depp as the sweet Gilbert, Juliette Lewis as the radiant Becky and particularly Leonardo Di Caprio as Arnie, who is truly phenomenal in his composition of the disabled and ingenious character. The cinematography from Sven Nykvist is equally stunning. A beautiful film worth watching!