What's Eating Gilbert Grape

What's Eating Gilbert Grape ★★★

Heartfelt, poignant & amusing in equal doses, What's Eating Gilbert Grape is a wonderfully crafted, sensibly narrated & brilliantly acted coming-of-age drama that offers an intriguing glimpse into the everyday life of a dysfunctional family and is powered by stellar performances from Johnny Depp & Leonardo DiCaprio.

Set in a small American town, the story of What's Eating Gilbert Grape follows its titular character who has put his own life on shelf after his father's death in order to take care of his morbidly obese mother & mentally disabled younger brother, and has been struggling to make ends meet for his family but all of it is challenged when love enters Gilbert's life.

Directed by Lasse Hallström, the film begins on a slow note and while the pace never really picks up at any given point, it does allow its characters to breathe freely & adds sizeable depth to their arcs. The small-scale town life is elegantly portrayed and the lifeless surrounding further amplifies the hopeless situation our protagonist finds himself to be trapped in.

However, the most impressive aspect of What's Eating Gilbert Grape is the input from both Johnny Depp & Leonardo DiCaprio. Depp chips in with a very layered performance that clearly expresses his character's inner turmoil but it's the then-young DiCaprio who effortlessly steals the show with a tender, effective & thoroughly compelling work that will always be counted amongst his finest acts to date.

On an overall scale, What's Eating Gilbert Grape expertly covers the themes of familial burdens, brotherhood, responsibility, caring, love, bonding & self-awareness and is at its most enchanting when the screen is shared by Depp & DiCaprio for their chemistry is absolutely spot-on here and easily overshadows the rest of the aspects. Although my experience with it was somewhat underwhelming, it is worth a shot for DiCaprio's show-stopping turn alone.

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