What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?

The movie, based on the book with the same title by Peter Hedges, is somewhat just a shadow of the original story. Even if Peter Hedges did adapt the story himself into the screenplay, there are just many things that were captured in the book that could not make it into the confines of a 2 hour or less movie, hence making the plot a little simpler, and the end a bit cheesy.

For those of you who haven’t read the book or seen the movie, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? is basically a story about a family in a small town called Endora, in the so-called American Heartland. A typical-but-not-so-typical depiction of life of the characters, life in the town itself, and the frustrations and aspirations of the townsfolk, especially the main character, Gilbert Grape. When the book delves into simple rural town imagery to describe and dessicate many issues about man’s striving for something better, the disappointments, the tears, the joy, and the psychology, in many strong undercurrents, the movie only succeeds to envoy the basic story collecting it all together, with few of the questions posed in the book rising to the surface (except if you’ve read the book).
I wonder if the movie would be as good if I had watched it before reading the book, but, I guess, I wouldn’t even be interested in watching the movie if I hadn’t read the book first. It comes to mind that the movie was actually made for those who had actually read the book, as the movie does not make obvious references or introductions to a few secondary characters (which again, were described more vividly in the book). The small conflicts, the questions, the vivid characters enjoyed in the book are sadly diminished or even non-existent in the movie, but a reader would recognize the main story plots to keep the story recognizable. Granted, adaptation of a book to screenplay is one of the toughest jobs out there, and not even the author himself might of made something better than a professional screenwriter. But in all aspects, both the screenwriter and the director did a fair job in bringing the story to the silver screen, and the casting was great (although I thought Momma would be older than depicted in the movie), and they dared modifying certain details of the story, and even taking the ending further than the book, to keep it interesting.
But the sheer strength of the original story (and all its symbolisms) still take What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? into a great movie. Applause for the screenwriter, and the cinematographer.

About barijoe

Failed Musician, Reformed Gadget Freak and Eating Extraordinaire.

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