Thursday, 14 August 2008
No.21 : What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
IMDb Link : http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108550/
The lack of a question mark in this film’s title annoys me. I know its probably deliberate and adds to the film’s offbeat mystique but punctuation isn’t optional!
Johnny Depp plays a small town grocery clerk who has his hands full. He has a whale of a mother and a mentalist brother (Leonardo DiCaprio) as well as two annoying sisters. He is also enjoying an affair with married Mary Steenbergen, so in my book he is well up on the deal!
Gilbert’s hum-drum life is shaken up when free spirit Juliette Lewis shows up in town and gives him an idea of what life could be if he broke free of his shackles. Things come to a head when his lover’s husband dies in shady circumstances and he beats up his handicapped brother for eating one birthday cake too many.
This is a film that I would normally have avoided due to its whimsical image and dull sounding plot. I actually quite enjoyed it, although at nearly two hours it is a bit long. The suffocating nature of Grape’s family existence was well done, with the super sized Mom a stand out. Although Grape is ashamed of her at first he comes around when he shows some moxy when dealing with the cops and the stairs. Her own story was handled well as were her final scenes which were borrowed wholesale from ‘The Elephant Man’.
Leo got an Oscar nomination for his role as the challenged Arnie, and although very convincing it was really annoying too. At times you wanted to slap him, which was later revealed to be the whole intention of the director. Stick with it he gets his in the end.
Of the support, Crispin Glover’s undertaker and John C. Riley’s handy man were underused but good fun all the same. Juliette Lewis with her southern drawl and fresh looks would turn any head and it was little wonder that Grape trades in his MILF for the younger model.
I liked this film which has great characters and a solid handle on the nightmares and joys of family living. A few surprises towards the end kept my interest and it’s definitely worth a look.
Best Bit : Depp Vs Leo
‘W’ Score : 17/23