Gilbert Grape – Irgendwo in Iowa (1993)

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Gilbert Grape – Irgendwo in Iowa: Directed by Lasse Hallström. With Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis, Mary Steenburgen. 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.

“Small American towns nurture kindness and big hearts, as personified by Gilbert Grape (Johnny Depp), a twenty year old guy who heads a loving but difficult family of two younger sisters, a mentally retarded younger brother named Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio), and their obese momma (Darlene Cates). These are humble, unpretentious common folks who do the best they can. But life in a small town in Iowa is hard, and it can be frustrating and confining. At times, you can feel … trapped.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe filmu0026#39;s theme is explicit. Gilbert is trapped in a vexing family. Arnie is trapped in a body with a flawed brain. Momma is trapped in an obese body. A local woman named Betty (Mary Steenburgen) is trapped in an unsatisfying marriage. A young woman named Becky (Juliette Lewis) is trapped with her grandmother in the town by an RV that has broken down while passing through. Even a grasshopper gets trapped in Arnieu0026#39;s mischievous hands.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eSeeing good people trapped in difficult situations is poignant. The film really tugs at your heartstrings. In one sequence, momma must face gawkers as she leaves the courthouse. Her response is inspiring and majestic. Darlene Cates does a wonderful job in this role.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eGilbert and his family live in a modest house. Its interior reminds me of the grim, depressing house in the movie u0026quot;Silkwoodu0026quot; (1983). The dinner table must be moved each meal to wherever momma is sitting. And typical family conversation centers on preparation for Arnieu0026#39;s birthday party, and debate over ways to cook bacon.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eA friend helps Gilbert reinforce the wood floor under Gilbertu0026#39;s house, so that the floor wonu0026#39;t collapse under the weight of momma. Gilbert is kind, and has a big heart. And he is very protective of Arnie who has a habit of climbing up the townu0026#39;s water tower.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe townsfolk are satisfied with fulfilling small dreams, like getting a job at the new burger barn, or getting an ice cream snack at the local u0026quot;Dairy Dremeu0026quot;. Small American towns … life is familial and loving, but it can also be confining. And this film reminds me a lot of u0026quot;The Last Picture Showu0026quot; (1971).u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe acting in u0026quot;Whatu0026#39;s Eating Gilbert Grapeu0026quot; is very good, as is the color cinematography, and production design. I did find the Arnie character to be a bit grating at times. The filmu0026#39;s plot is slightly repetitive. And I donu0026#39;t care for the filmu0026#39;s title. But these are minor issues.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eu0026quot;Whatu0026#39;s Eating Gilbert Grapeu0026quot; is a heartfelt story about life in a small American town, with all its kindness, big hearts, and familial love, despite the hardships. The film is worth a serious look, for its thematic depth, for its acting, and for its attention to detail in sets and production design.”


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