What's Eating Gilbert Grape

What's Eating Gilbert Grape

Film Text Response

“Please can’t we do something as a family?”
Is Gilbert’s family his biggest problem?

The film “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” directed by Lasse Hallström depicts a young man’s frustration at his “crippled” family. The quote “Please can’t we do something as a family” is a vexed exclamation from Bonnie Grape (Momma) at the dinner table while the Grape children argues and fights. This has immediately informed the audiences that the Grape family is dysfunctional. Family has been the main contributor of Gilbert Grape’s dilemmas; however, Gilbert is a donor of his problems too.

Gilbert’s major problems originate from his family. Ever since the suicide of his father, Albert Grape, in the basement of their house, Gilbert has become the family’s sole breadwinner. As the only dependable man left in the family, Gilbert is the carer and protector of his younger brother, Arnie, who is mentally disabled and about to turn eighteen. Arnie’s mental disability has induced his mind to remain at a level of five year-old. Leonardo DiCaprio has portrayed Arnie in the most accurate way. He highlights the habits of a five year old on the mental demented Arnie such as beating on the head when he realizes something is wrong, awkward movements, incapability of comprehending death, gay and wild behaviours. Arnie is a constant trouble-maker which is the reason that Gilbert must lock his eyes on Arnie every single second, this is sapping out all of his energy. One typical example is when Arnie climbs the water tower while Gilbert has not been keeping an eye on him. It has attracted almost the entire population of Endora including the police. Even though Gilbert manages to persuade Arnie to climb down, he is unable to deter Arnie from returning in the future. This is explicit when Gilbert tells Arnie to promise the police that “this is the last time”, and in the next second Arnie whispers to Gilbert that he “wants to go back up again’. Arnie does not understand...

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