Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What's Eating Gilbert Grape

One lazy afternoon, I finally got to watch a film I've been meaning to see. Mind you, it's not the new Transformers movie (I haven't seen the old ones either!) which just about dominated all cinemas. In fact, it's the 1993 indie What's Eating Gilbert Grape.

It takes place in Endora, a small town where the Grapes live. The story follows Gilbert (played by the one and only Johnny Depp), the oldest brother of four siblings, who also stands as the man in the family ever since their father died.

His main concerns: their morbidly obese mother who hasn't gone out of the house for years, the house itself which is slowly falling apart, and most of all, Arnie, their mentally-challenged brother who is about to turn 18. With his hands full, can Gilbert ever dream outside of such a remote place?

The subtle acting and touching realism of the screenplay makes it remarkable. Note-worthy performances go to a very young and talented Leonardo DiCaprio (Arnie) and Darlene Cates (Mama). I was taken with just about everything in this movie. I felt as if I was a part of their neighborhood. I felt like I knew them. I guess that's when you know you've seen something really special.

I love that it depicts certain social issues such as stigma against mental illness and 'socially unacceptable' physical appearance but I love it even more because it made me reflect on life, the value of family, and the value of ourselves.


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