What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?

Directed By: Lasse Hallstrom

Genre: Drama

Starring: Johnny Depp, Leonardo Di Caprio, Juliet Lewis.

The story was narrated by Gilbert Grape (Johnny Depp) it took place in a small town called Endora, Iowa, he introduces the members of his family, telling he has a brother named Arnie who was 17 yrs old at the time of his narration, he is mentally impaired, born with retard-ism, and that he is lucky if he still alive at the age of 10, he has 2 sisters named Amy the eldest who always cooks for them, Ellen 15 yrs old the youngest who had just recently got her braces off, he also mentioned he got a brother named Larry but he ran away from them, no participation whatsoever, and her mother who was Morbidly Obese, so fat she spends most her time in a sofa watching TV and eating.

Then What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? Responsibilities, he looks after Arnie protects him all the time, he make sure his little brother is not hurt or harmed by any one, at the beginning Gilbert looks bored in his daily routine, he feels stuck in his life’s duty, maintaining, fixing and repairing the house, providing food a duty that is supposed to be done by an adult, he wants to be free from this burden, and be just a normal guy.

These responsibilities of Gilbert keeps him impaired just like his brother, he felt his life is limited from getting where he wants to be and want to go, same routine everyday, nothing really happens in Endora he said, it’s like he has no other choice but be confined in his life isolated from every thing, just like his Momma who never left the house for 7 years since her Husband committed suicide, she chose to stay drowned in her depression, and let her kids do the responsibilities that is supposed to be done by her as a parent.

The most remarkable thing about this movie was the strong acting played by each characters, one notable actings for me is Darlene Cates who played Gilbert’s Mom Bonnie Grape, her acting was so authentic and pure with emotions, especially the role Arnie played by Leonardo Dicaprio, he understands his role so much that it’s hard to convince yourself he was just acting the whole time, it was outstanding, his character is so likeable at times annoying, most especially when he ate his birthday cake the night before his celebration.

The film has a very beautiful way of demonstrating and introducing change in Gilbert’s perspective, it introduces a character that personifies freedom, it provides little insights that death of a loved one can also start a new beginning, although quite depressing and impairing, and it limits life to move on because of grief or sometimes responsibilities that was left by the ones who passed brings a burden to the ones who was left, but there is always something that can bring hope in life even after death of a family member.

©Eessangj Sept. 2020

7 Replies to “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)”

  1. Loved it. DiCaprio is mind-blowing. His acting foreshadowed his talent in the years to come. What struck me most was the contrast between the wide open Iowa spaces and the close knit family with its lack of breathing room.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing a comment Alex, and yes one of the key elements of the film is its setting, and the close relationship of its characters, guess it was structured that way to emphasize the message the story conveys.


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