Fave Film #14 – What’s Eating Gilbert Grape


Cast – Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis, Mary Steenburgen

DiCaprio was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Gilbert is struggling to keep his family together in a one street small town with no options.  He supports his obese, house-bound mother, his mentally challenged brother, and his two sisters in the house that his father built before he hung himself in the basement.  The only thing this family has is each other.  While Amy, the oldest sister, takes care of the mother, it falls on Gilbert to take care of his brother at all times. 

Why I Love It – Usually I fall in love with the performances or the story, but in this case I can’t choose one because I loved them both.  Obviously, Johnny Depp is going to give you a good performance and this is one of his most normal roles.  He plays a long-suffering man of the house struggling to keep it all together with little thought to his needs.  But DiCaprio’s Arnie equally shines and he was more than deserving of the Academy Award.  This was Leonardo before Titanic and showing his acting chops.  I was amazed at what he pulled off.  Those two performances alone make this movie a must see.

The story is heartbreaking, real, hopeless, and hopeful.  The mother had become a joke to the town and even to Gilbert, who was embarrassed by her and for her.  Arnie continued to run Gilbert’s life and he was stuck in an affair that had nowhere to go.  Then Gilbert met a girl just passing through town with her grandmother and his world seemed to expand.  Someone was looking at him, for him not for the role he played in her life.  I don’t want to give too much of the movie away because if you haven’t seen it I hope you take the time to check it out.  It will touch your heart.