What's Eating Gilbert Grape
|What's Eating Gilbert Grape|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Lasse Hallström|
|Produced by||Bertil Ohlsson
|Screenplay by||Peter Hedges|
|Based on||What's Eating Gilbert Grape
by Peter Hedges
|Music by||Alan Parker
|Edited by||Andrew Mondshein|
Matalon Teper Ohlsson
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$10 million|
What's Eating Gilbert Grape is a 1993 American drama film directed by Lasse Hallström and starring Johnny Depp, Juliette Lewis, Darlene Cates and Leonardo DiCaprio. The film follows 24-year-old Gilbert (Depp), a grocery store clerk caring for his morbidly obese mother and mentally impaired younger brother in a sleepy Midwestern town. Peter Hedges wrote the screenplay, adapted from his 1991 novel of the same name. The film was well-received; DiCaprio received his first Academy Award nomination for his role.
In the small town of Endora, Iowa, Gilbert Grape (Johnny Depp) is busy caring for Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio), his brother with a developmental disability, as they wait for the many tourists' trailers to pass through town during their "yearly ritual" of camping at a nearby recreational area. His mother, Bonnie (Darlene Cates), gave up on life after her husband hanged himself in the basement 17 years earlier. She spends almost all of her time on the couch watching TV and eating. With Bonnie unable to care for her children on her own due to her morbid obesity, Gilbert has taken responsibility for repairing the old house and looking after Arnie, who has a habit of climbing the town water tower, while his sisters Amy (Laura Harrington) and Ellen (Mary Kate Schellhardt) do the rest. The relationship between the brothers is of both care and protection, as Gilbert continually enforces the "nobody touches Arnie" policy. A new FoodLand supermarket has opened, threatening the small Lamson's Grocery where Gilbert works. In addition, Gilbert is having an affair with a married woman, Betty Carver (Mary Steenburgen).
The family is looking forward to Arnie's 18th birthday. A young woman named Becky (Juliette Lewis) and her grandmother are stuck in town when their International Harvester Travelall pulling an Airstream trailer breaks down. Gilbert's unusual life circumstances threaten to get in the way of their budding romance. In order to spend time with Becky watching the sunset, Gilbert leaves Arnie alone in the bath. He returns home late and wakes up the following morning to find Arnie still in the bath, shivering in the now-cold water; his guilt is compounded by his family's anger. His affair with Mrs. Carver ends when she leaves town in search of a new life following her husband's death — he drowned in the paddling pool after suffering a heart attack. Becky becomes close to both Gilbert and Arnie and as she talks to Gilbert she begins to unlock some buried hopes, dreams and happiness. During one of their talks they are distracted from Arnie who returns to the water tower he is forever trying to climb. Arnie is arrested after being rescued from the top of the tower, causing his mother — who has not left the house in seven years — to become the object of pointing, laughing and gawking from the townspeople as she goes to the police station, forcing Arnie's release.
Soon after, Arnie tries to run away yet again from his bath and in his frustration Gilbert finally snaps, hitting Arnie several times. Guilty and appalled at himself, Gilbert takes the car and runs out without another word. Arnie also runs out and goes to Becky's, who takes care of him for the evening before he is picked up by his sisters. After some soul searching aided by Becky, Gilbert returns home during the birthday party to make amends to his family for running out and to be forgiven by Arnie which, with only the slightest hesitation, he is. He apologizes to his mother for his behavior and promises that he is not ashamed of her and that he will not let her be hurt any more. She admits to Gilbert her knowledge of what a burden she has become to the family, and he forgives her. He introduces her to Becky — something he had been reluctant to do earlier.
Following Arnie's 18th birthday party, Bonnie climbs the stairs to her bedroom for the first time since her husband's suicide. Arnie later tries to wake her but discovers she has died. The children, not willing to let their mother become the joke of the town by having her corpse lifted from the house by crane, empty their family home of possessions and set it on fire. A year later, Gilbert describes what happened to his family after his mother's death, as Gilbert and his brother Arnie wait by the side of a road for Becky, who does come with her grandmother, and picks them both up.
- Johnny Depp as Gilbert Grape
- Juliette Lewis as Becky
- Leonardo DiCaprio as Arnie Grape
- Mary Steenburgen as Betty Carver
- Darlene Cates as Bonnie Grape
- Laura Harrington as Amy Grape
- Mary Kate Schellhardt as Ellen Grape
- Kevin Tighe as Ken Carver
- John C. Reilly as Tucker Van Dyke
- Crispin Glover as Bobby McBurney
- Penelope Branning as Becky's Grandma
- Libby Villari as the Waitress
What's Eating Gilbert Grape was shot in Texas, in various towns and cities; Austin and Pflugerville were primary locations, as well as Manor, where the water tower featured in the film was located.
The film received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film was given an 89% "Certified Fresh" rating. New York Times film critic Janet Maslin praised DiCaprio's performance, writing "the film's real show-stopping turn comes from Mr. DiCaprio, who makes Arnie's many tics so startling and vivid that at first he is difficult to watch.... The performance has a sharp, desperate intensity from beginning to end." Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun-Times described it as "... one of the most enchanting films of the year" and said that DiCaprio deserved to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for which he was nominated. Todd McCarthy of Variety found the film a "bemused view on life" and remarked that "Depp manages to command center screen with a greatly affable, appealing characterization." Washington Post's Desson Howe thought the film was an earnest but highly predictable effort. Film Review praised Leonardo DiCaprio as the mentally challenged brother, calling it "a performance of astonishing innocence and spontaneity", bringing "a touching credibility to a very difficult part". Film Review quoted the actor:
I had to really research and get into the mind of somebody with a disability like that. So I spent a few days at a home for mentally retarded teens. We just talked and I watched their mannerisms. People have these expectations that mentally retarded children are really crazy, but it's not so. It's refreshing to see them because everything's so new to them.
|Award||Category||Recipients and nominees||Result|
|66th Academy Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Leonardo DiCaprio||Nominated|
|51st Golden Globe Awards||Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture||Leonardo DiCaprio||Nominated|
|65th National Board of Review Awards||Best Supporting Actor Award||Leonardo DiCaprio||Won|
- "What's Eating Gilbert Grape - Box Office Data". The Numbers. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
- "What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-07-23.
- Clinchy, Don (December 13, 2011). "Lone Star Cinema: What's Eating Gilbert Grape". Slackerwood. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
- "What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) - Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
- "What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
- "What's Eating Gilbert Grape Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
- Maslin, Janet (1993-12-17). "Movie Review: What's Eating Gilbert Grape". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
- Ebert, Roger (1994-03-04). "What's Eating Gilbert Grape". rogerebert.com. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
- McCarthy, Todd (1993-12-06). "What's Eating Gilbert Grape Review". Variety. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
- Howe, Desson (1994-03-04). "What’s Eating Gilbert Grape". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
- Cameron-Wilson, James; Speed, F. Maurice (1994). Film Review 1994-5. Great Britain: Virgin Books. p. 148. ISBN 0-86369-842-5.
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