Rain Man (1988)

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Rain Man: Directed by Barry Levinson. With Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino, Gerald R. Molen. Selfish yuppie Charlie Babbitt’s father left a fortune to his savant brother Raymond and a pittance to Charlie; they travel cross-country.

“Any movie fan remembers the iconic line from u0026quot;Cool Hand Lukeu0026quot;: u0026quot;what weu0026#39;ve got here is failure to communicateu0026quot;. I believe a similar diagnosis can be made about the two lead characters of u0026quot;Rain Manu0026quot;, Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) because heu0026#39;s autistic, and his brother Charlie, 25 years younger, because heu0026#39;s a young yuppie blinded by his own ego. Both live in their world, both are their own referential; naturally, theyu0026#39;re put in a situation where they have to interact. u0026quot;Rain Manu0026quot; features one of the most intriguing premises of the 80u0026#39;s, and although the film never strikes as a u0026#39;masterpieceu0026#39;, not even in style, it does deliver the emotional pay-off we all expect without recycling old archetypes or falling into sentimental trap.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eShould I describe Raymond Babbitu0026#39;s condition? Those who know already have in mind his mimics, head-banging, u0026#39;uh-ohu0026#39;, his addictions to such TV programs as u0026quot;Judge Wapneru0026quot; and u0026quot;The Wheel of Fortuneu0026quot; and his perfect recitation of Abbots and Costellou0026#39;s u0026#39;Whou0026#39;s on firstu0026#39; routine when heu0026#39;s uncomfortable. And to those who havenu0026#39;t, itu0026#39;s enough saying that Dustin Hoffman surpasses himself, if it ever was possible after performances of the caliber of u0026quot;Tootsieu0026quot; or u0026quot;Midnight Cowboyu0026quot;. Heu0026#39;s unbelievably convincing, capable to transcend the limits of acting. To win an Oscar for a rather one-note character is an exploit even more impressive because Hoffman manages to pull some human complexity in Raymond, making him absolutely endearing and adorable yet frustrating and scary. Raymond is a character we want to love without turning it into pity.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eOn the other hand, his brother Charlie is the total counterpart, young, handsome, heu0026#39;s a self-made man who exploited a passion for cars to sell imported vehicles. Even his girlfriend, played by the beautiful Valeria Golino is Italian, like a foreign beautiful possession, a trophy that elevates him above the others. Charlie Babbit is a character who flirts with the archetype of the young and arrogant go-getter, a role tailor-made for an actor like Tom Cruise, especially in the 80u0026#39;s. The talent of Cruise consists on making his character unlovable enough to laugh at his misfortunes with Raymond, but human enough to feel sad for him when he learns about his fatheru0026#39;s death, and much more, when he learns that he didnu0026#39;t get one cent from him, while he was full of debts. Charlie is a character we want to hate but end up giving him the benefit of the doubt.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eAnd Charlie is so blinded by his financial problems that heu0026#39;s incapable to care for Raymond and take his medical condition into consideration; all he sees in him is the guy who inherited three millions from his father. At this point, I suspect the screenwriter immediately thought u0026#39;hey, in fact, Raymond is medically autistic, while Charlie is symbolically autistic; letu0026#39;s see if the viewers will figure thatu0026#39;. I donu0026#39;t think it takes a degree in psychoanalysis to jump to that conclusion. Anyone would see the kidnapping of Raymond coming. Naturally, the girlfriend leave them to let the adventure begin between the two brothers and both would learn how to communicate … not. This is where the odd-couple/road movie formula stops. The strength of u0026quot;Rain Manu0026quot; is to never make Raymond change, no miracle cure, no sudden change of behavior, if there is one whou0026#39;s up to change, itu0026#39;s Charlie. And he must change, otherwise, the whole premise of the film is pointless.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe quality of Barry Levinsonu0026#39;s film is to make a predictable turn of events work remaining believable, it also grabs our interest without an abundance of spectacular scenes, or overused emotion. Itu0026#39;s always interesting to see a character with leadership quality, handsome and somewhat charismatic, pushed to follow an autistic man and having to deal with out-of-control situations. Charlie wants to take Raymond in L.A, but they canu0026#39;t because Raymond is afraid of planes, and when Raymond starts screaming in panic, Charlie understands that the road trip will follow Raymondu0026#39;s parameters of life. In a way, Raymond Babbit is a leading role because he leads the story. And by following Raymond, Charlie will get to know more about his brotheru0026#39;s sensitivity and become more empathic, a word he knew nothing about. The narrative progresses and provides the filmu0026#39;s greatest twist, when Charlie realizes he can use Raymondu0026#39;s savant skills.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eTill now, the film is mostly remembered for the u0026#39;Las Vegasu0026#39; sequence and the iconic moment when the two brothers stand on a descending escalator wearing the same suit, and the last step between Charlie and Raymondu0026#39;s reconciliation, a clever partnership for a rewarding pay-off. Itu0026#39;s obvious that Charlie was mostly motivated by greed, but itu0026#39;s impossible not to see genuine attachment growing between Cruise and Hoffman. Both had failure to communicate their feelings, but itu0026#39;s by inviting his brother to communicate his inner thoughts, his fears and desires that Charlie learned the process of listening, of using another referential than his, of being capable of giving and understanding. The film follows the traditional coming-of-realization structure, and on that level, Tom Cruise never makes his changing obvious and spectacular. Indeed, both actors are so good, almost equally, because it was to Cruise to portray anger and frustration without making it forced or over the top.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eWithout Hoffman and Cruise, I canu0026#39;t imagine the film having the same impact. Yes, the screenplay is well-written, and Hans Zimmeru0026#39;s score has a haunting effect, but itu0026#39;s definitely an actorsu0026#39; film. It ended up winning the Best Picture Oscar in 1988, which is quite surprising considering how simple and non-Best Picture material it feels, but it did created a genuine interest for autistic condition, and featured many memorable scenes, and I guess sometimes, thatu0026#39;s enough to touch the hearts.”


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