Sunday, November 15, 2009

best films: #74: MARVIN'S ROOM (1996)

Previously ranked and blogged at #69
Yes, it's probably a standard, run-of-the-mill family "dramedy" (sheesh, using that word still upsets me), yes, I've covered by undying love for this movie earlier, and yes, it probably doesn't have near the following I think it does, but listen folks -- Marvin's Room is a great movie with a fantastic cast, and anyone who hasn't seen it, needs to immediately. Bolstered by stellar performances from the three actors seen to the left (Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Diane Keaton), it follows the stories of two estranged sisters who reunite when one (Keaton) is diagnosed with leukemia and the other (Streep) returns home to help take care of her sister, her bed-ridden father (Hume Cronyn), and her zany Aunt Ruth (Gwen Verdon). It's easy to see that the film is based on a play (by Scott McPherson), due to its simple backdrop and its very actorly nature. This one sets itself apart from other similar pieces with its impressive showcase of talent from its stars. To me, Streep is the standout as Lee, the trouble-making sister (for more on her performance see the Merylfest entry). Keaton is remarkably strong as the weakening family strength, Bessie (the performance got her an Oscar nomination). And the oft-forgotten remainder of the cast -- DiCaprio as Streep's pyro son Hank, Cronyn (highly effective as the aging Marvin), and Verdon (in easily her most enjoyable and heartwarming performance) -- round out what makes this flick so watchable: Though it has heart, unlike most similar films, it's not afraid to show its deep-set character flaws.

Standout Performance: Streep is a force in this movie, and you don't even notice it. That's acting.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I haven't seen this one in years. I told you before I agreed on how brilliant and underrated Streep was in this and all your praise makes me think it might be time to revisit it.