Favourite Movies: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

10 things I love about this movie:

1. Johnny Depp. This is one of his early works and he is so divine. Mmmmm. Actually, his hair is horrible – the cut and colour.

2. Leonardo Dicaprio is amazing as Arnie. I could say so much more but it would all amount to the same thing. Amazing.

3. The setting. There is something so humble and honest about American movies set in nowhere towns. This movie was filmed in Texas. 1993.

4. The themes. I could bang on about so much here but may just dot point: family, friendship, community, loyalty, hope, grief, connection.

5. Juliette Lewis’ character. She brings fresh hope and life to Gilbert, who is a good and loyal young man trapped by his geography, his brother’s disability and his mum’s sadness. He deserves to hope.

6. The dialogue. Quirky yet intentional. I love films or dramatic TV shows where dialogue shapes the characters.

7. The death scenes. Yep. For a movie about hope and new life, there is a bit of death happening. The crickets in the mail box, the husband of Gilbert’s first love interest, Betty Carver, who drowns in the blow up pool after suffering a heart attack… And Gilbert’s mum.

8. The house burning scene. The kids come to a consensus that the only way to lay their morbidly obese mum to rest with dignity is to burn her and the family home. Wow. Poignant.

9. There are many scenes showing how hopelessly Gilbert is trapped in his life of service to his family and others. One of my faves is where Gilbert decides Arnie is independent enough to wash himself, and besides, Gilbert is desperate to do something normal like spend time with young Becky, which he does. The following morning he wakes up to take a leak and discovers Arnie shivery and cold, still in the bathtub where Gilbert left him the night before.

10. The final scene. The symbolism of the silvery, shimmery caravans going somewhere, anywhere, away from the township of Andora.


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