The United States of Leland

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Released 2004

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Movie Summary

Director:
Matthew Ryan Hoge
Released:
2004
Rating:
R
After seemingly ordinary 15-year-old Leland (Ryan Gosling) stuns his quiet suburban community with a chilling crime, he is sent to juvenile hall where he meets Pearl (Don Cheadle), a teacher and aspiring writer who dreams of making Leland's compelling story into a book. As Pearl digs deeper into Leland's life and the people caught up in it - his mother (Lena Olin), his famous writer-father (Kevin Spacey), and his troubled girlfriend (Jena Malone) - he uncovers Leland's disturbing motive.

Metacritic Score

  • 40

    Los Angeles Times Kevin Thomas

    An ambitious and intelligent film probing that chronic contemporary phenomenon, the seemingly senseless crime, but it is ultimately unsatisfying for all its efforts and various plu...

  • 40

    Variety David Rooney

    Hoge shows no particular directorial style, bringing a bland, anonymous look to the generic Southern California suburban locations.

  • 30

    The New York Times Dana Stevens

    The real question raised by The United States of Leland is not why, but how. How, that is, did so many talented actors find their way to this dreary and derivative study in suburba...

SUBMIT REVIEW
  • The Ultimate Movie Review! -- @tss5078

    6.0
    Ryan Gosling stars in what many consider to be his breakout role, playing a modern day Holden Caufield, who has committed a heinous crime. While the story has some tremendous performances, it really lacks any substance, rehashing the events of the past week, over and over again. We know right from the beginning of the film, that Leland killed a *** boy, what we don't know is why. The focus of the film is discovering what lead this highly intelligent, son of a celebrity, to commit such an act. The film has a huge cast of celebrities, that include Don Cheadle, Kevin Spacey, Chris Klein, and Michelle Williams, all of whom are as good as you would expect. What the film has in talent, it lacks in substance, as it's really just a whole lot of Leland talking in code. The writers go out of their way to show Leland as this deep, emotionless kid, that's been trapped inside his own mind his entire life. As the film goes on, the more Leland opens up. The writers paint the portrait of this kid and show you ever aspect of his life, in the hopes that you will figure out his true motivation before it comes out. The result is a slow moving film that causes the audience to gradually lose interest as time goes on. There is no doubt the Ryan Gosling was spectacular and deserves every good thing said about his performance, but the story seems to move slowly and in circles. The writers made it much more in depth than it had to be and most audiences will be turned off by it.moreless

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