What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

Even if you have a taste for movies about dysfunctional families, as I do, you may be a little put off by the Grapes in this adaptation by Peter Hedges of his own novel: missing father, 500-pound mother, mentally disabled son (especially good work by Leonardo DiCaprio), and two daughters, as well as Johnny Depp to more or less hold things together. This is directed by Lasse Hallstrom (My Life as a Dog, Once Around), and his feeling for the look and mood of a godforsaken midwestern town is often as acute as Sven Nykvist’s cinematography; Juliette Lewis plays the out-of-town girl Depp takes a shine to once he starts getting tired of the married woman (Mary Steenburgen) he’s involved with, and while the picture is too absentminded to explain what it is that makes Lewis move in and out of town, she and Depp make a swell couple. There are other rough edges as far as plot is concerned, but I liked it. With Darlene Cates, Laura Harrington, Mary Kate Schellhardt, Kevin Tighe, and Crispin Glover. Old Orchard, Webster Place, Ford City, Bricktown Square, Lincoln Village, Water Tower.

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