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What's Eating Gilbert Grape Review


"What's Eating Gilbert Grape", Matalon Teper Ohlsson, 1993


This film has taken my heart. Not only is this film a beautifully crafted story about the want for more, but it does so by tackling the foundation of its genre with poignantly sharp self-reflection that understands to a tee the world of the book it is based off.

This film doesn't rely on one particular piece of film form to tell its tale - it fully realises that in order for the audience to not only understand but contemplate the deep-rooted conflicts that frames the crippling mundanity of these characters lives, every creative decision needs to be expertly handled, without losing focus of the melodramatic nature of its mould. The story glides along a uniquely contemplative sun-kissed aesthetic. The breezy feel that is captured elegantly by the washed-out colour palette of the town, often harnessed by a sense of scale drawn out by the wide shots which subtly echoes the daunting nature of the static progression of the diegesis. Depp's performance, whilst appearing merely uninspired, manages to plant the audience perfectly in this town, through Hallstrom's subtle direction that, once again, understands the role this individual plays in the source material. The treatment towards sound is often claustrophobic and noisy, reflecting brilliantly the turmoil between individual identity and the duty to protect the past. The relationships each of the characters share not only act as important subjects to the story (especially DiCaprio's very faithful Arnie), but are treated so delicately in order to present the conflicts as naturally as possible, despite the disturbing lining shared between the young and the old.

This film is filled to the brim with subtleties that together create a collage of real, tangible, visceral emotion - this film captures masterfully the "and-life-goes-on" struggle of self and the human experience. The beating heart of this film is strung together by precisely-crafted janky pacing that enables the themes of freedom and the fleeting reality of life to not only be explored, but dissected, but yet it never loses focus of its brutally honest identity.


5/5 Stars

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