• Publication date: February 12, 2010

In a Dark Tunnel She Gives Him Light

Lasse Hallstr�m, the mastermind behind �The Cider House Rules� (1999) directs �What�s Eating Gilbert Grape� (1993), a film adaptation of novelist Peter Hedges� work of the same name. �Pirates of the Caribbean� (2003) and �Edward Scissorhands� (1990) star Johnny Depp depicts lead character Gilbert Grape, a 21-year-old grocery boy living in Endora, Iowa. Gilbert watches over his mentally handicapped brother, Arnie, portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio who rose to fame in films such as �Titanic� (1997) and �Romeo + Juliet� (1996). Gilbert and Arnie live with their morbidly obese, 500-pound mother, Bonnie (Darlene Cates) and sisters Amy (Laura Harrington) and Ellen (Mary Kate Schellhardt).

Lasse Hallstr�m, the mastermind behind �The Cider House Rules� (1999) directs �What�s Eating Gilbert Grape� (1993), a film adaptation of novelist Peter Hedges� work of the same name. �Pirates of the Caribbean� (2003) and �Edward Scissorhands� (1990) star Johnny Depp depicts lead character Gilbert Grape, a 21-year-old grocery boy living in Endora, Iowa. Gilbert watches over his mentally handicapped brother, Arnie, portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio who rose to fame in films such as �Titanic� (1997) and �Romeo + Juliet� (1996). Gilbert and Arnie live with their morbidly obese, 500-pound mother, Bonnie (Darlene Cates) and sisters Amy (Laura Harrington) and Ellen (Mary Kate Schellhardt).

Gilbert Grape�s future seems bleak. His hometown, Endora, has only one street and is economically deprived. Tucker (John C. Reilly), one of Gilbert�s friends, aspires to become the owner of Burger Barn, a fast food restaurant; Bobby (Crispin Glover), Gilbert�s other friend works for his family�s funeral home as a mortician, and hopes to inherit the business one day. Gilbert works at a local grocery store that faces bankruptcy since Foodland, a large supermarket franchise came to down. The new establishment, the first they have ever seen with live lobsters in aquariums, astonishes members of the community and they flock to its doors.

However employment isn�t Gilbert�s greatest worry. Since his father committed suicide he has become the man of the family, making repairs to the home and tending to his mentally disabled brother, regularly bathing and rescuing Arnie when he climbs up the town�s water tower but forgets how to climb down. In fact, the local police remain largely dormant except for repeated visits to the tower when Gilbert is not around to rescue Arnie.

The patriarch�s suicide deeply affected Bonnie, the children�s mother. Since her husband�s suicide she has remained inactive, steadily feeding herself to death. Local children come to her living room window just to see her in disbelief; immobilized, she struggles to climb the stairs to her bedroom, much less leave the house. When Gilbert is at work his sisters take care of Bonnie and other household duties.

Gilbert�s relations with women has been limited to his affair with Betty Carver (Mary Steenburgen), a married, older, and lonely woman who receives frequent visits from Gilbert when her husband is away. The thought of leaving Endora or advancing beyond its boundaries is unfathomable. When a young girl and her grandmother are stranded in Endora for a week while their car is being repaired, Gilbert begins thinking optimistically. Together, Becky (Juliette Lewis), Gilbert, and Arnie struggle to overcome their adversities and attempt to escape from their haunted past.

Numerous publications praised �What�s Eating Gilbert Grape� including the New York Times, Variety, the Washington Post, and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times. The film launched Leonardo DiCaprio�s film career earning him Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for his role.

�What�s Eating Gilbert Grape� is rated PG-13 due to some mature subject matter. Its runtime is 100 minutes.