J1 Review Writer, Isabelle Swanson
“What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” had me hooked by the title. It really piqued my curiosity. I mean, what could possibly be eating Gilbert Grape?
I originally hit “play” because of the all-star cast of Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio, but what I got was a story so strong, I forgot the characters were actors.
Johnny Depp’s career displays the wide range he can play, but here we see a very distanced character. Depp plays Gilbert Grape, a teenage boy who both grew up too fast and goes through life half-asleep.
Since his morbidly obese mother hasn’t left the house since his father left the picture, Gilbert has to take on many roles. One of his roles is caring for his brother with a mental disability, Albert Grape, played by young Leonardo DiCaprio. He was only 19-years-old in this incredible breakout performance.
This is a Drama/Romance movie, but I feel like this story is centered on Gilbert as a person, and not just his relationship with Becky, played by Juliette Lewis. Becky and her grandmother are passing through Gilbert’s town when their camper breaks down, leaving them stranded. This is when their two worlds meet.
This movie is rated PG-13, which is understandable. Gilbert Grape’s story isn’t an easy one and it includes the single strangest love triangle in cinematic history.
The detail of this movie punched me in the chest. Recurring themes start to pop up, and scenes that seemed unimportant take on a whole new meaning. If you don’t whisper to yourself, “Oh my gosh, I see what they did there!” watch the movie again because, oh my gosh, you need to see what they did there.
This story was written as a book in 1991 by Peter Hedges, who also wrote the screenplay for the movie adaptation. I have not read the book yet, but I fully intend to.
This movie came out in 1993 and is available on Netflix.
This movie has a rating of 7.8/10 stars on IMDB, and a 4/5 star rating on Netflix. Personally, I would give this movie a 5/5, partially for the emotional impact it had on me for days after I watched this movie, but mostly for Johnny Depp’s hair.