29 September 2014

The Cider House Rules

The Cider House Rules 1999
  • Director: Lasse Hallström
  • Based on the novel by John Irving
  • Cast: Michael Caine, Tobey Maguire, Charlize Theron, Delroy Lindo, Paul Rudd, Jane Alexander, Kathy Baker, Erykah Badu, Kieran Culkin, Kate Nelligen
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Michael Caine  The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, the Dark Knight, Flawless, Sleuth (2007), The Prestige, Children of Men, Batman Begins, Last Orders, Get Carter, Little Voice, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Mona Lisa, Educating Rita, Sleuth (1972), Alfie and perhaps others
    • Tobey Maguire – The Ice Storm, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Pleasantville, The Great Gatsby, Spiderman
    • Charlize Theron – The Road, Prometheus, Battle in Seattle, North Country, Monster, Sweet November, The Astronaut’s Wife, The Devil’s Advocate,
    • Delroy Lindo – The Exonerated, A Life Less Ordinary, Ransom, Feeling Minnesota, Get Shorty. Clockers.
    • Paul Rudd – Friends, Romeo and Juliet
    • Jane Alexander - The Sunshine State, Terminator – Salvation, Playing for Time, Kramer vs Kramer
    • Kathy Baker - Take Shelter, Last Chance Harvey, The Jane Austen Book Club, Cold Mountain, The Glass House, Edward Scissorhands,, To Gillian on Her Thirty-Seventh Birthday, The Right Stuff
    • Kieran Culkin – Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Igby Goes Down
    • Kate Nelligan – Wolf, The Prince of Tides. Frankie and Johnny, The Onedin Line
  • Why? Curious to see it again
  • Seen:  September 28, 2014 with Hal and YW in read-book-see-film club
John Irving wrote the screenplay so he must have been satisfied with all the cuts and changes but a lot of them must have hurt.  As we take a pause in watching, and after we’re finished, we have a lot of objections to discuss.
But he does get the story. More or less.  Dr. Wilbur Larch runs an orphanage in a remote part of Maine in the 1940’s. He delivers babies of women who can’t keep them and he performs illegal and safe abortions to the women who he feels have the right to demand them. Homer Wells is one of the orphans who, though adopted by a couple of families (four in the novel) returns to the orphanage.  Wilbur trains him to become a skilled obstetrician and gynaecologist. Though Wilbur treats all of the orphans kindly and lovingly he regards Homer almost as a son. But Homer refuses to perform abortions no matter what Wilbur says to convince him of the rightness. Homer longs to leave the orphanage and takes his chance when the young (not yet married) couple Candy and Wally come for an abortion.  Homer leaves with them, gets work on Wally’s mother’s apple orchard.  Wally goes off to war and Candy and Homer fall in love. 
There is a subplot of black migrant apple pickers but the racism described in the book is skimmed over. The love interest between Wilbur and one of the nurses is transformed and overemphasised as is the infatuation one of the girls in the orphanage has for Homer.  None of this translates well on the screen.
But there are some good humorous lines and the acting is solid throughout.  Several of the cast could have shared Caine’s Oscar for best supporting actor.  The kids are all great and I confess to a sniffle or two at the end. It’s a good film.  It’s more a Hallström film than an Irving book and that is not a bad thing.  But read the book too.

3 * of 5

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