What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
Leonardo DiCaprio is known for so many great performances and great movies that it’s easy to forget about his early work. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is one of his early performances and it shows his incredible chops at only 19 years old. In the film, he plays a young boy named Arnie with a mental disability – it displays his true and undeniable ability to completely disappear into a role.
It also features a classic and subdued Johnny Depp performance. He plays the titular Gilbert Grape who has to take care of a younger brother who needs constant attention, a mother with extreme health problems and a home.
This is the kind of movie that will hit you hard emotionally. It’s largely due to the excellent performances, but there’s a touching story that drives the performances. The film gets deep into family dynamics, what you prioritize, and learning to let go just a little bit.
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape has been overshadowed by other great movies that the two main actors have done, but it deserves more praise and dissection, if only because of their performances. The fact that it is streaming on Netflix right now should be a great reason to get people to watch and talk about it.