Director: Lassie Hallström
Writer/s: Peter Hedges
Starring: Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis, Mary Steenburgen, Darlene Cates, Laura Harrington, Mary Kate Schellhardt, and more.
Requested Review from Steve Voll!
I am excited for this one! Here I tackle the classic film starring a young Johnny Depp and especially young Leonardo DiCaprio, “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” I have heard of the incredible performances within this film, and it has always been on my radar since I am a pretty big Leo fan, so I am glad to finally get to this request!
“A young man in a small Midwestern town struggles to care for his mentally-disabled younger brother and morbidly obese mother while attempting to pursue his own happiness.”
As I expected, what a great film! Through and through, it is easy to see why Depp and DiCaprio have gained the recognition they currently have after seeing the quality of performance they put forth in their earlier films. Them as well as the remainder of the cast all made this movie work so well with thoughtful and unique characters.
Leonardo DiCaprio is simply astounding. I heard time and time again how around the time this film was released, viewers actually thought Leo was mentally-disabled and were shocked once they realized he was not. From what I researched, Leo did some researching of his own to be accurate within his role. I was appreciative of how well he portrayed emotion not only with his voice, but also with his facial expressions and body language.
Johnny Depp is surely one that needs to be mentioned as well. His charming and delicate character of Gilbert was such a pleasure to watch develop throughout the film. However, I did have some moments where I wanted a little more emotion from him with his everyday interactions with his family and townsfolk. I can understand that it was part of his character, I just wanted a little more. Regardless, he was almost as impressive as Leo.
The story of “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” is as sensitive and wonderful as it can be. We follow Gilbert, a man of a small town who cares for his family to great lengths, yet yearns for a little something more. Gilbert is faced with a great moral dilemma of exploring beyond his small town and family vs. staying put to take care of his family. You cannot help but root for Gilbert and want the best for him yet completely understand why he has such a struggle to continue caring for his family, whom he loves dearly.
As for any negatives, I would focus on two main personal flaws I saw with it. One, the pacing is a tad slow at times. Maybe it was a natural pace for a drama film but for me, it just dragged on a bit too much at times. My second personal quirk, something I already said, is Depp’s character of Gilbert and using a bit more emotion in everyday life. I made note a couple of times throughout my watch that I wanted a bit more expression out of him.
Yet another excellent request sent my way. I mean, I expected greatness from the cast and just from what I have heard from others, but it is always nice for my expectations to match the reception. It was wonderful to see the young Leo and Depp put on an excellent show, and the movie itself is beautiful and tragic all at the same time. Do not be a lame like me and take any longer to watch this if you have even a little bit of interest in it!
Editor: Erica McNatt
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