I recently watched the film What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and it amazed me that I didn’t know about this film earlier. It has a great cast with a few notables including Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp. This film seems extremely underrated to me. I thought I knew about every good movie DiCaprio was in, but I was so wrong.
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is a light-hearted film that is full of good performances, but the one that stood out was DiCaprio’s performance as Arnie. Arnie is an autistic teenager who is about to turn 18. If I hadn’t watched any other of Leonardo’s movies before this, then I would have thought he was actually autistic. DiCaprio’s performance in this film is simply outstanding. Keep in mind that this came out in 1994 and that Leo was only 18 when he was in it. It’s astounding that he could put out a performance like he did at his age. It really serves as a testament to how talented Leo is as an actor that he could pull off something like this. It angers me that he didn’t win an Oscar for his role in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, although he did get nominated. There were some other nice performances as well. Depp’s performance in the film was good as well. He didn’t have as good of a performance as DiCaprio did, but he was great. I thought that Depp’s first good performance in a movie was in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. I was clearly mistaken. He seemed like a good father figure to Arnie because he was basically the dad in their house. Depp and DiCaprio’s performances carried the movie.
While I really liked this movie, I thought it had a few problems. I wanted Arnie to be in every scene because it seemed like the movie worked well when he was on screen. When one of the daughters had a scene I zoned out because they didn’t capture my attention. The youngest sister was a huge annoyance for me. She was such an annoying character. Add that with the fact that sometimes she was mean to Arnie and you have a character that isn’t easy to like. I thought that the extremely obese mother wasn’t really a good character either. I assume she was in the book, so I could be wrong about that.
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is a film that I thoroughly enjoyed. DiCaprio’s performance as Arnie alone is worth the price of admission. You could tell by watching this film that he was an amazing talent even at age 19. He was absolutely amazing in this film and he basically owned every scene he was in. It was a very thoughtful and heartfelt film that I would recommend to anyone who likes watching movies. I give What’s Eating Gilbert Grape a 3.5/4.