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(Review originally written at 29 July 2006)

This drama was a surprising good one. The story might sound over-dramatic and sappy but the execution of it all is surprising good. The director chooses an approach with lots of humor present. It makes "Marvin's Room" a well balanced drama that despite its heavy subject never feels overdone- or gets too heavy to watch.

It's sort of too bad that this movie is always sort of regarded to as a Leonardo DiCaprio-flick. Its a movie from the period when he wasn't a well known male Hollywood lead yet. The mainstream audience had yet to discover him, which they did a year later with "Titanic", while certain smaller groups of movie viewers already discovered this great young talent in movies such as "What's Eating Gilbert Grape", "The Quick and the Dead" and "Romeo + Juliet". This movie however deserves so much more than just being regarded as as a Leonardo DiCaprio-flick. I'm sure of the fact that this movie is regarded as such, scares lots of people of from watching this movie (mainly "Titanic" haters). Yes, Leonardo DiCaprio is in the movie but no he doesn't play the main lead, or a pretty boy, which he more often did in his later movies, which are the reason why he also has so many haters all over the world. So really, if you're not a fan of DiCaprio's later movies (after 1997) you'll most likely still enjoy this movie. So please, just give this movie a chance, it's certainly worth it.

I was not sure what to expect from this movie. The story sounded over-dramatic. It's the sort of story were one problem is not enough. Basically every characters has several problems and issues. A movie like this can easily go over-the-top or it can get too sappy and overdone. I'm glad to say that the movie however surprised me and surpassed my expectations. Because of the fact that the movie is told with quite some humor, it doesn't make the movie an heavy one. Sure, there are plenty of dramatic scene's still present in the movie but it all is extremely well balanced all. It never gets too heavy but it also never gets too humorous either. It makes both the drama and the humor work out really well in the movie.

It also certainly helps the movie that there are lots of stars present in it. They make the characters and events feel more likely and realistic. Meryl Streep is perhaps one of the best actresses of all time, although this role is certainly not her best one but I think that says more about Streep herself rather than her performance in this movie. Of course Diane Keaton is no light-weight either. She delivers a powerful performance. Also Leonardo DiCaprio shows that he is more than just a pretty face. A smaller role is there for Robert De Niro. It's the sort of role basically everyone could play and it doesn't make a very big or lasting impression, so don't expect much of him when watching this movie. The only reason why he plays a small role in this movie is because he also was one of the producers for this movie.

But if you take away all those great actors, would this still had been such a good movie to watch? I don't think so. At certain moments while watching this movie I even wondered why all those famous actors ever agreed to be in this movie. I think that the movie had some great casting persons and some powerful, influential producers. It probably also had to do with the director Jerry Zaks who was a very successful award winning Broadway director prior to this movie. (Perhaps he also had already worked with some of the stars out of this movie?) But really, the story on its own is not good or powerful enough to carry the entire movie or make it an incredible interesting or emotional powerful one. So on its own, the movie is a pretty empty and formulaic one but it is made interesting, good and powerful thanks to the wonderful cast and refreshing directing and approach by Jerry Zaks.

Of course this movie is mainly for the lovers of drama movies but everyone should be able to appreciate and enjoy this movie thanks to its approach of the heavy themes and the professional cast playing the characters.

7/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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