13 October 2013

What's Eating Gilbert Grape

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape 1993
  • Director: Lasse Hallström
  • Based on book: by Peter Hedges
  • Cast: Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis, Mary Steenburgen, Darlene Cates, Laura Harrington, Mary Kate Schellhardt, Kevin Tighe, John C. Reilly, Crispin Glover
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Johnny Depp  Nightmare on Elm Street, Platoon, Slow Burn, Cry-Baby, Edward Scissorhands, Benny and Joon, Arizona Dream, Ed Wood, Don Juan DeMarco, Dead Man, Nick of Time, Donnie Brasco, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Ninth Gate, The Astronaut’s Wife, Sleepy Hollow, The Man Who Cried, Chocolat, Blow, From Hell, Lost in La Mancha, Pirates of the Caribbean (all four of them), Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Secret Window, Finding Neverland, Libertine, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Public Enemies, Alice in Wonderland, The Tourist
    • Leonardo DiCaprio  Romeo and Juliet, Marvin’s Room, Titanic, The Beach, The Gangs of New York, Catch Me If You Can, The Aviator, Blood Diamond, Shutter Island, Inception, The Great Gatsby
    • Juliette Lewis  The Darwin Awards, Hysterical Blindness, Strange Days, The Basketball Diaries, Romeo is Bleeding
    • Mary Steenburgen  – The Help, Honeydripper, Sunshine State, I Am Sam, Philadelphia, Ragtime
    • Laura Harrington – The Devil’s Advocate
    • John C. Reilly – A Prairie Home Companion, The Aviator, The Hours, Chicago, Gangs of New York,  The Good Girl, The Perfect Storm, The Thin Red Line, Boogie Nights, Georgia, Delores Claiborne
    • Crispin Glover – Alice in Wonderland, Dead Man, Wild at Heart, Racing with the Moon
  • Why? Guess. Seventh movie of JD marathon (slightly out of chronological order, maybe).
  • Seen: About ten times. Most recently August 7, 2009 and July 2, 2010.  Now: October 12, 2013, with Y, K, and Hal.

      There’s no way this is going to be an analytical review of the film.  It’ll probably just be a love letter.  When people ask me what my favorite movie is, this one is usually on the list.
       It’s the one my students most often choose as end-of-summer-course film and often I watch it with them instead of grading National Tests.
       And now I’ve watched it again, in the JD marathon, with the added spice of including it in our read-book-watch-film trio.  Actually I read the novel before ever seeing the movie.  It must have been when the novel first came out in the early 90’s. I loved it.  A while later I saw a notice in the newspaper that a movie was going to be made. It was undoubtedly newsworthy because of Lasse Hallström (it was a Swedish newspaper after all) and not because of JD. I don’t remember if I reacted to the fact that JD was going to be in it. I remember that they had found a non-professional to play the mother.
       Anyway. Years later the movie is part of my bloodstream. The book was good again too but grimmer than the movie.  It is Lasse Hallström after all. I love his movies. I love JD. Oh, you’ve noticed…
       Like Edward Scissorhands it’s so sadly sweet. But realistic (in its way) so even sadder. And dignified. Somehow these people get on with it in spite of the weirdness of their lives. Or let go with self-esteem.
       The cast. Well. It goes without saying that JD is the perfect Gilbert. I won’t go on about it. DiCaprio is brilliant and should have gotten the Oscar he was nominated for (it went to Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive; he was good too but…)  Darlene Cates as the mother is excellent as are the sisters and everybody else.
       In the spirit of the moment I’ve given movies 10 * of 10 which may be too generous but I stand by my spontaneous ratings.  This one has been twenty years in the development. And how can you rate your first (or at least early) love affair? Let’s say
13 * of 13 (It is, coincidentally, the 113th film reviewed on this blog.)

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