What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? is a 1993 drama film directed by Lasse Hallström and written by Peter Hedges. The film is an adaptation from Peter Hedges’ book of the same title. Its lead actors are Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio and Juliette Lewis. It’s the story about Gilbert, man of the house, who cares for his younger brother Arnie who has a development disability and for his morbidly obese mother with the help of his two sisters. They live in Endora, Iowa, a place where nothing really happens or ever will. It is the life of Gilbert and his dealings with family, work, and love.
I recently watched this for the first time and find it amazing how far both Depp and DiCaprio have come. Thinking about that that guy is Jack Sparrow was wild, because what a change! Johnny Depp is such a chameleon. It was refreshing to see him in a younger and even innocent role. DiCaprio was around 18 years old when he played mentally challenged Arnie. Although his role was a supporting one, he stole the show. His performance is beyond good. It is brilliant. It is difficult to believe that he isn’t mentally challenged in reality because the role was so incredibly real! Not just his behavior but his small ticks and mannerisms. I’m a huge DiCaprio fan and have seen almost all his films and I have to say his performance in this 1993 film is the best one I have seen. It got him the nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
The bond between Gilbert and Arnie is great. You can really see what kind of a person Gilbert is. He’s the one that thinks about others before himself. While at times he’s frustrated with life itself he’s always there for his family and those who need him.
Juliette Lewis does a sweet and nonjudgmental character which wasn’t so special perhaps because that’s part of her real self but nevertheless an important piece to Gilbert’s life.
The cinematography is what you would expect from a quiet, boring town and its outskirts. So in that sense, they nailed it.
A wonderful film indeed and one that you will always remember, thanks to DiCaprio and Depp and of course Swedish director Lasse Hallström.
Thanks for reading my review!
– Nick Andersen