What's Eating Gilbert Grape?

In this month's installment of Nothing to Watch on Netflix, I chose to watch What's Eating Gilbert Grape?


I picked this movie mostly because of the cast. It features Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio, two actors I generally like. (John C. Reilly is also inexplicably in this movie) Since this movie came out in 1993, Depp and DiCaprio are twenty years younger, long before Depp completely lost his mind and Leo snorted coke out of a hooker's ass. It was fun to see these actors when they were relatively nameless, as you can really see their potential. 

Depp plays the eldest son of a dysfunctional family living in a mid-western one horse town . DiCaprio plays the mentally handicapped younger brother who could "go at any minute." After seeing this movie, I am convinced that DiCaprio will never get an Academy Award. If you aren't getting an Oscar for playing someone who's disabled, you're not gonna get an Oscar period. 

I liked this movie. However, I want to make it clear that WEGG? is an extreme bummer. It follows a young man who is trying to hold his family together at a massive personal cost. His father is dead. His mother is morbidly obese and doesn't leave the house. He's got a retarded brother who can die at any moment. Apparently, a LOT is eating Gilbert Grape.

The characters are the driving force behind this movie. The plot is loose, centering around Arnie's (DiCaprio) upcoming 18th birthday party. There's a clear timeline of events, but things still feel episodic. You're really just trying to see what makes this characters tick. This is especially the case for the titular Gilbert Grape, but all of the characters get their share of development. 

I can't say it was particularly well shot. I don't mean that it was awkward or disorienting. I just mean that there wasn't anything that visually wowed me about this movie. One thing I will note is that there is a TON of foreshadowing and symbolism. It's subtle, but it's there. For example, the name of the town that Gilbert Grape lives in is called "Endora", which sounds a lot like the word endure, which is what Gilbert has to do in order to survive. 

Overall, I would recommend this movie if you're trying to watch something that makes you think and feel. It's not much of feel-good and it's not mindless. This is a movie to sit and watch and pick up all the nuances on. 

Check it out!