What's Eating Gilbert Grape

Released 1993


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Movie Summary

Lasse Hallström , Lasse Hallstrom
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is a 1993 film written by Peter Hedges and directed by Lasse Hallstrom, starring Johnny Depp as Gilbert Grape, a young man living in the small town of Endora, Iowa, and caring for his mentally handicapped brother Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio), because their mother Bonnie (Darlene Cates) is too obese to care for them. With Bonnie indisposed because of her weight, Gilbert looks after Arnie to make sure he doesn’t end up climbing the water tower as he is apt to do when left alone, and sisters Amy (Laura Harrington) and Ellen (Mary Kate Schellhardt) do the cooking and cleaning. It is the time of year when trailers come through town during the “yearly ritual,” and Gilbert meets Becky (Juliette Lewis), a young woman stuck in town with her mother when their trailer breaks down. Despite his affair with the married Betty Carver (Mary Steenburgen), Gilbert develops feelings for Becky. As he spends time with her, he finds that he is neglecting his duties caring for Arnie, leading to Arnie developing a fear of water when Gilbert leaves him in the bath overnight, and climbing the water tower and being arrested when Gilbert doesn’t notice him leaving because they’re with Becky. When Bonnie goes to the police station to retrieve him, she is publicly ridiculed. Although Gilbert learns from Becky to explore his own dreams and aspirations, he also has to stand by his family, protecting Arnie and Bonnie, and he works at finding a balance between them and young love.moreless

Metacritic Score

  • 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Some of the best movies are like this: They show everyday life, carefully observed, and as we grow to know the people in the film, maybe we find out something about ourselves. The ...

  • 100

    Chicago Tribune Gene Siskel

    One of the most original, appealing offbeat American films in recent years.

  • 50

    Philadelphia Inquirer Steven Rea

    DiCaprio provides one of those tailor-made Oscar turns - cocking his head at odd angles, twitching and gesticulating with childlike awkwardness, his face a mask of sweet innocence ...

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children in adult situations, siblings, absent parent, abrasive parent, bad parenting