A beautiful, poignant comedy-drama film starring the beautiful Johnny Depp as Gilbert Grape and a stellar performance by the very young Leonardo DiCaprio as his mentally-retarded brother, Arnie.
Their lives are set in Endora, a run down town where nothing much happens promises a monotonous life for its inhabitants. The Grape brothers live with their morbidly obese and widowed mother, Bonnie (Darlene Cates), older sister Amy (Laura Harrington) and younger sister Ellen (Mary Kate Schellhardt), all struggling to find their true selves.
All Gilbert wants is a normal life and he is resigned never to realize that. Not in a lackluster town like Endora anyway, and with a retired brother in tow, a brother who heavily depended on him plus an overweight mother who has not stepped out of the house for years.
Enter Becky (Juliette Lewis), a free-spirited young woman stranded in Endora with her grandmother after their trailer broke down. The friendship forged between Becky and Gilbert quickly blossomed into summer love. In Becky, Gilbert found open doors to get in touch with his true self, the self that was otherwise hidden underneath layers of pain, disappointment and disillusionment that he shouldered for years. Something new is eating Gilbert Grape.
It was reported that Johnny Depp was nursing a broken heart after splitting with ex-fiancée Winona Ryder during the filming of the movie. Taking up the role of Gilbert cave has an opportunity to be in touch with the defeated part of himself and sank in misery, yet still hang on to glimpses of hope, no matter how flimsy.
Leonardo DiCaprio admitted that playing Arnie was the most fun role he undertook. The trademark action of Arnie wiping his nose repeatedly was DiCaprio innovation to the character, a symbol of Arnie wiping his brain from the outside.
What's Eating Gilbert Grape is a remarkable movie that leaves a sense of gratitude in the viewers for all the little things in life that are taken for granted.