Movie Title: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
Date Released: December 17th, 1993 (limited, March 1994 elsewhere)
Date Seen: June 25th, 2012 (yes, I had never seen this before)
Part 1 – Spoiler Free Quickie Review
A beautifully shot movie. One that doesn’t follow a traditional plot – but is an amazing story nevertheless. Johnny Depp plays Gilbert Grape, the son acting as the father figure in the family, who must care for his obese mother and his mentally challenged younger brother, Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio). There is so much that goes on in the life of Gilbert in only about a week – but we feel like we’ve known the family forever and love them, despite all their problems. Leonardo DiCaprio does an AMAZING job playing the mentally challenged younger brother. He gets things as simple as little mannerisms with his fingers or just physical ticks down. The little things like that take it from a regular performance to a stellar performance.
Don’t watch it if you want a normal happy ending. You’re not going to get one. You will however feel for this family until the very last moment.
Part 2 – In Depth Spoiler Ridden Review
As I write this, the end scene is on. When they burn down the house. Watching the siblings stand out side proud of what they’ve done (taking care of their mom until the very end) with the house burning in the background, was beautiful. I also liked Gilbert (and the rest of the family)’s final act in that they weren’t going to let their mom be made fun of that last time. It was especially touching since it was Gilbert that had the idea – and fitting. He knows what he did was wrong, such as showing the kid his obese mom through the window. We see him change through the movie – such as the scene when she goes to get Arnie out of jail. Then at the end he does the most respectful thing he can think of for her.
The best parts of this movie are the simple scenes. Such as the beginning and end with Arnie and Gilbert running up and down the road looking at the trailers. The camera is fixed towards the road, and we see Gilbert sitting there while Arnie plays around waiting for them to drive by. When they do come, they both have a good time running after them. And the camera never moves. It’s beautiful.
I know this review is extremely short, but considering I feel that I’m one of the only people in the world that hasn’t seen it, I’m ok with that. It was a beautifully shot movie, great non-traditional plot, and superb acting skills by Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp.