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.

24 thoughts on “Fave Film #14 – What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

  1. Bumbles says:

    Can you believe I’ve never seen this? How did that happen? Must rectify ASAP.

    P.S. You really should find time to watch Animal House. I can’t believe you’ve never seen that.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      I think most people missed this when it came out. I remember getting it from Blockbuster in 94, returning it, and then checking it out again a few weeks later 🙂

  2. christina says:

    I agree; this is one of the best movies out there. It’s been forever since I’ve seen it, but man, does it still leave an impression. Seriously. I had no idea who DiCaprio was when I stumbled upon this movie and is it wrong for me to say that I thought he truly was mentally handicapped? To find out, years later, he wasn’t (Titanic). Geez Louise.

    I only saw this movie because of JD (I’m gonna marry him one day, btw!), but Leo totally stole the show.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      PLEASE invite me to the wedding! I thought the same thing about DiCaprio when I saw it. He was that good.

  3. fleurfisher says:

    Good call! I have to tell you that I had a younger brother with Downs Syndrome, and the sibling relationship rings utterly true.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      I caught it on one of the movie channels and was so excited. It’d been too long since I’d seen it.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      For some reason it didn’t make a lot of money when it came out. I’m trying to remedy that 🙂

  4. jennygirl says:

    I absolutley adored this movie. All of the actors were great in their roles and I sympathized with everyone. This is truly a moving film and makes you think.

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