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What's Eating Gilbert Grape?

1993 (Lasse Hallstrom) PG, 117 minutes

Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis

WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE is a delightful film, well worth revisiting and compelling in any discussion of novel-to-film adaptions. The book was a first novel for Peter Hedges and, though the film's creative team boasted such established artists as director Lasse Hallstrom (My Life as a Dog, Chocolat) and cinematographer Sven Nykvist, novice Hedges was hired to write the screenplay. This was surely to maintain his singular view of Ednora, Iowa and the unique characters within. Although Hedges went on to write further screenplays (About a Boy, A Map of the World), and even direct (Pieces of April, Dan in Real Life), it is arguably still this first novel and the 1993 film he is best known for. For how often could such a story of frailty, yearning and dark humour be filtered through the dreamlike sensibilities of Lasse Hallstrom? The film features remarkable performances by all including Johnny Depp as Gilbert, imprisoned by family responsibility, and a young Leonardo DiCaprio as his brother Arnie, in his first Oscar-nominated role. 

Jane Schoettle

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