What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
Gilbert Grape (Johnny Depp) is a young man who lives in a rural town with his 2 sisters (Laura Harrington and Mary Kate Schellhardt), his mentally handicapped brother Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his morbidly obese widowed mother (Darlene Cates). His family is dysfunctional as his mother hasn’t left the house since her husband died, Arnie is always getting into trouble by climbing the town’s water tower and his sisters bring extra drama. Gilbert also tries to juggle many complicating things in his personal life including an affair with a married woman (Mary Steenburger), holding a job for his family, having his friend (John C. Reilly) telling him his house needs to be rebuilt, and falling in love with the new girl in town (Juliette Lewis). With little outside influences on his life for guidance, Gilbert must learn and grow with the ever-changing issues facing him in his life.
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is a drama in every sense of the word. There is little in Gilbert’s life that is happy and positive and we as the audience feel the sadness and hardship. The story is just that, a story. There doesn’t seem to be any direction to the movie except that it just tells a simple story. Nothing to really think about or figure out. Nothing to hold your attention or keep you wanting more. The acting is wonderful by Leonardo DiCaprio and the drama created in the small town is real and the emotion is shown on it’s sleeves, but the question I ask is, “Do we care?” Why should we care about Gilbert? I don’t see anything inspiration or motivating about this story. Nothing holds me captive and I sure didn’t find it all that entertaining. This movie is deep and depressing and one that showcases a artistic atmosphere and situation, but beyond that is just boredom. As someone who studies film, the elements that should make this movie “pop” is just lost in the grief and sadness.
5/10 Stars – Sad, depressing and, at times annoying, Gilbert Grape is a drama that just never feels happy..
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