Friday, August 31, 2007

Marvin's Room

Marvin's Room; Drama, USA, 1996; D: Jerry Zacks, S: Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Hume Cronyn, Gwen Verdon, Dan Hedaya, Cynthia Nixon

17 years ago, two sisters went their own ways. Hysterical Lee broke up every connection with the family, became a cosmetic an gave birth to two sons: Charlie and the problematic Hank who ended up in a mental asylum because he put a house on fire. Her sister Bessie remained to take care of her old, sick and paralysed father Marvin. Then Bessie is diagnosed with Leukemia so she invites Lee to spend the last few interesting moments together. Hank and Charlie can't give her a piece of bone mark so she accepts her fate.

In the long list of melodramatic soap operas in which overrated actress Meryl Streep appeared in, "Marvin's Room" is just another solid, touching, but tame and standard contribution. Unlike the superior, similar drama "Terms of Endearment", director Jerry Zacks directed this family melodrama conventionally, light, thin and without outstanding highlights, thus it failed to become alive. Some of the confusment resulted in the fact that many fans believed that Marvin was played by Leonardo DiCaprio, but in reality he was played by the old veteran actor Hume Cronyn, which is rather unusual since his character is one of the least important ones in the story. DiCaprio is good, but it doesn't help that he has to speak annoying lines written in the shaky script, like the rubbish about how his friend tied flies around the hair threads, and the tricky story revolving around a woman, Bessie, getting diagnosed with a terminal disease, didn't avoid a pathetic tone in the fullest and deserved a better development and intelligent observations. In one of the better performances, Robert De Niro plays the nonchalant doctor Wally with amusing undertone - in one scene, as he is about to check Bessie in his clinic, he phones his brother to leave him privacy and "not let any calls in". But just as he hangs up, the phone rings and Wally answers it - namely, his brother asks him if it was his voice who just gave him that request. Endurable Diane Keaton, who constantly inappropriately giggles and grins, is used to play a character who is sick and suffers only so that Meryl Streep once again could gain another needless Oscar nomination. Yet, this time around Streep wasn't nominated, but Keaton instead.


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