Writer: Peter Hedges (Screenplay) Peter Hedges (Novel)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis, Mary Steenburgen, Darlene Cates, Laura Harrington, Mary Kate Schellhardt, John C Reilly, Crispin Glover
Plot: After his father’s death, Gilbert has to care for his mentally disabled brother, Arnie, and his morbidly obese mother, which is suddenly challenged when love walks into his life.
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Story: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape starts by taking us to the small American town of Endora where we meet the Grape family oldest brother Gilbert (Depp) mentally challenged Arnie (DiCaprio) sisters Amy (Harrington) and Ellen (Schellhardt) and mother Bonnie (Cates).
With Gilbert needing to spend every day looking after his family and most Arnie he finds himself only dreaming of leaving this small town but when he meets traveller Becky (Lewis) he starts with something he never saw coming but is left with the dilemma of can he leave his family.
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape gives us a story of a struggling family in America with all of their own problems but the leader of the household is very reluctant but knows he has to stay to hold everything together. The film shows how you need to love the ones closest to you however difficult it could be and it also shows how you can’t let your life be controlled or ever held back.
Johnny Depp: Gilbert Grape has to look after his family after his father’s suicide, he finds himself stuck in this small town facing a life where he could spend his whole life there. He is well respected through the town but his good nature is what is holding him back because his love for his mentally ill brother shines through his character. Johnny gives us a great performance where he has to keep everything subtle without stealing anyone else spotlight.
Leonardo DiCaprio: Arnie Grape is the mentally ill teenager on the verge of turning 18, he can’t handle the simple day interactions and is always needed to be watched over by Gilbert. The older he is getting the harder he is getting to control but Arnie just doesn’t understand the problems he is causing. Leonardo gives a performance which puts his name firmly on the map and one that gave him his first Oscar nomination.
Juliette Lewis: Becky is a traveller who is passing through only to breakdown in this small town. She shows Gilbert he could have if he didn’t have Arnie in his life giving him the glimpse into the life he could on dream off. Juliette is good in this role coming off like a natural character in this movie.
Mary Steenburgen: Betty Carver is a local lady who has been using Gilbert for an affair, she always asks for him to do deliveries but becomes increasingly jealous when Becky turns up in town. Mary is good in this role but is the only one that has moments where she could look out of place.
Support Cast: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape has a supporting cast which includes the rest of the Grape family with all their flaws and the locals who all have a built in friendship with Gilbert. Each member of the supporting cast shows us how this film all comes off feeling like a natural story.
Director Review: Lasse Hallstrom – Lasse is a director you can always trust to give you a touching story and handle all of the characters so well.
Drama: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape gives us the drama where we get to see the struggles in a small town America and a family with their own problems.
Romance: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape keeps the romance very simple as we see Gilbert learn that he will need to leave this town to every understand true love.
Settings: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape has the whole film set in the small town in America which helps the story shine through.
Suggestion: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is one I do think everyone should have watched at least once because the story is so powerful. (Watch)
Best Part: DiCaprio and Depp show their star quality in simple roles.
Worst Part: It is hard to find one.
Believability: The problems the characters go through could all be considered real problems but this story is fictional.
Chances of Tears: Maybe.
Chances of Sequel: No
Post Credits Scene: No
Oscar Chances: Nominated for One Oscar.
Budget: $11 Million
Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes
Tagline: Arnie knows a secret. His big brother Gilbert is the greatest person on the planet.
Overall: One of the simplest and charming movies you will ever see.