Cider House Rules, The

Rating:

Drink This One Up

Main Cast: Tobey Maguire, Charlize Theron

Director: Lasse Hallstrom

This moving, coming-of-age story set during the Second World War is rich with characters, details, and setting. It follows Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire), an orphan under the care of Dr. Wilbur Larch (Michael Caine). Dr. Larch takes the boy under his wing and teaches him all about medicine and about life. Hesitant to send the boy out into the world, he finally caves in after a couple, Candy Kendall (Charlize Theron) and Wally Worthington, enter their lives. Homer tags along with them and ends up working at an apple orchid owned by Candy’s mother. Homer learns more lessons, including the Cider House rules, under the rather morally bankrupt leadership of Mr. Rose (Delroy Lindo), the boss of the migrant workers.

Rounding out the cast are such familiar names as Kathy Baker, Jane Alexander, J.K. Simmons, a very young Keiran Culkin and a pre-Apatow fame Paul Rudd as Wally Worthington.

The Cider House Rules won two Academy Awards  – Michael Caine for Best Supporting Actor and John Irving for Best Adapted Screenplay (beating Frank Darabont for The Green Mile and Anthony Minghella for The Talented Mr. Ripley).  It was also nominated for Best Picture, Director, Film Editing, Original Score and Art Direction.  While critical reviews were somewhat mixed, the film’s overall reception was positive.

The film is a fairly good adaptation of the John Irving book.  It is slow without being boring, and packs in any number of very rich characters in the beautiful Northeast setting of lush woods, flowing fields, and melodic accents. Homer is put through a number of difficult situations where he must choose his path carefully, and the movie isn’t afraid to take on taboo and sensitive issues.  Four stars out of five.

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