Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The World According to Garp

The World According to Garp; tragicomedy, USA, 1982; D: George Roy Hill, S: Robin Williams, Mary Beth Hurt, Glenn Close, John Lithgow, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Swoosie Kurtz

Nurse Jenny uses a World War II soldier in a coma to get pregnant and get a son, Garp. Ever since he was little, she taught him that there is not much happiness in life, but that it can be a real adventure. At first fragile and shy, Garp eventually grows up into a strong man, channelling his creativity into writing an acclaimed book, marries Helen and bites off the ear of a dog that almost suffocated him when he was a kid. But when he moves to New York, Jenny overshadows him by turning into a famous feminist, gathering rape victims whom are comforted by transvestite Roberta. Helen cheats on Garp, while their son dies in an car accident. In a school, he is shoot by a feminist.

Long before "The Royal Tenenbaums" and "Little Miss Sunshine", the unusual and demanding cult movie adaptation of John Irving's eponymous novel, "The World According to Garp" already established an opulent blend of drama and comedy, containing bitter, but also melancholic events in a world inhabited by eccentric characters - bizarrely, despite (or maybe precisely because?) of their bizarre behaviour, they seem somehow more human, especially in one Jenny's defining and unforgettable line: "You know, everybody dies. My parents died. Your father died. Everybody dies. I'm going to die too. So will you. The thing is, to have a life before we die. It can be a real adventure". The tragic, episodic events conjure up a strange mood, that seemed like "Terms of Endearment" with a weird touch back then, yet that does not prevent director George Roy Hill from inserting a few spectacular jokes, like the crash of a small plane with Garp's house, in a sight to behold. Dirty, honest and magical at the same time, whereas two Oscar nominations and the New York Film Critics Circle Awards went to Glenn Close as Jenny, to whom Garp says: "I never needed a father with you around", and especially the excellent John Lithgow in the role of Roberta, the cheerful and thoughtful transvestite isolated in the society and torn between two genders, who finds his best friend in Garp. At the same time joyful and tragic, the story is denouncing every extremism (far right feminism, violence, intolerance, male ego...) and embracing individualism, turning into one of the best movies of the 80s - and arguably the best movie featuring comedian Robin Williams.

Grade:+++

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