Formal Review of What’s eating Gilbert Grape?

The movie What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1991) is a fantastic representation of the disabled community. It appeals to the non-fiction, heart jerking movie lovers. This movie contributes to creating diverse media as Leonardo DiCaprio beautifully and accurately played the role of an Autistic child. He tends to always bring out the liveliness and heart-warming tones of the characters he plays like in his other movies, The Titanic, or The Great Gatsby. The story takes place in a desert-like small town in Iowa. Gilbert, played by Johnny Depp, grows up in a dysfunctional family of five, including a dying mother, rebellious sister, an older bossy sister, and a younger brother Arnie who is played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Johnny Depp is one of the heart throbs in this movie, a common and dynamic love interest like in his other movie, Edward Scissorhands. Although, he is far more than his looks. His skills to become a hurt puppy dog personality truly captivates the viewer. The writer encapsulates the common struggles a family might go through with a developing teenager and an Autistic son, Arnie. This allows the audience to relate and truly feel for Gilbert and Arnie. This movie not only shows how Autism affects the whole family, but it also involves depression, coming of age, and loss. Gilbert’s father has been dead for a while due to suicide, forcing Gilbert to become the man of the house. His mother became a drain on the family’s resources and home life as she suffers from obesity. Their situation causes a constant shame because of the towns abusive gossip. The condition also forces Gilbert to take care of his family and Autistic brother as his mother cannot function on her own. This leaves no time for him to grieve and focus on his own happiness. The cinematography directed by Lasse Hallström, makes sure to hone in on the brothers relationship with shots like Gilbert at work and their daily routines. They also chose to film in a desert like setting pushing the idea of small town. The smaller amount of music throughout the movie is a plus as we get to read more into the dialogue and blocking to understand the plot. Gilbert meets a girl who helps him escape the household and take on new adventures. The developing friendship displays a healthy relationship for young audiences to learn from. As the plot unfolds, the drawn-out story quickly comes to an unexpected ending leaving room for the viewer to make up their own assumptions. After a rollercoaster of heart break for the characters you are left feeling relieved and optimistic. The artistic shots throughout the story and the beautifully developed storyline truly pulls you in till the end. There is no scene without meaning, leaving you on your toes. The author not only educated the audience about Autism but also gave a spotlight to small town life with the heart-warming journey of Gilbert finding his own path. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape was Peter Hedges’ first movie, the movie was a remake of his book.  Peter wrote the story setting in the same state he grew up in, so this story could have been related to his childhood and small-town experience. Some of his other pieces of work are Pieces of April and Ben is Black. He sits still in no genre but does tend to commonly dip into the drama. He writes in a wide range of themes, and they all include overcoming struggle. Overall, this movie deserves a 10/10 for plot, conflict, and resolution. The two-hour length of the movie is well worth your time.


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