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Overall Rating
4.18

Awesome: 39.25%
Worth A Look47.66%
Average: 7.48%
Pretty Bad: 2.8%
Total Crap: 2.8%

9 reviews, 53 user ratings


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Cider House Rules, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Fine Irving adaptation."
4 stars

John Irving hasn't had much luck with movies. The first of his efforts to be adapted, 'The World According to Garp,' made an interesting film and a good early showcase for Robin Williams' dramatic acting, but in the few attempts since -- 'The Hotel New Hampshire,' 'Simon Birch' -- too much was lost in the translation.

So Irving decided to tackle his novel The Cider House Rules himself, and though he may have drafted a strong and faithful screenplay, the hero of the movie version is the director -- Lasse Hallström (My Life as a Dog, What's Eating Gilbert Grape), who seems to have a natural understanding of loneliness.

Loneliness, in fact, is the main subject of The Cider House Rules -- that and the notion that people shouldn't live by rules or destinies prescribed for them by others. Of course, isolation and independence are the yin and yang of living one's own life, and the places in The Cider House Rules -- an orphanage/clinic, an apple orchard -- are proudly divorced from the societies they serve. People stay in these places because they have nowhere else to go, and they might as well be someplace where people care whether they live or die. At the orphanage, lives are saved and put on a shelf for possible later adoption. At the orchard, apples are picked and turned into cider, or shipped out into the world like orphans.

Young Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire) has a foot in both worlds. Homer begins life as a twice-rejected orphan at St. Cloud's, the orphanage run by the pragmatic Dr. Wilbur Larch (Michael Caine). Homer stays at St. Cloud's and becomes Dr. Larch's protege, assisting with pregnant women who, one way or another, need to be relieved of the burden of motherhood. One such woman, Candy Kendall (Charlize Theron), arrives at St. Cloud's to unburden herself; when she is ready to leave with her soldier boyfriend (Paul Rudd), Homer decides to go with them. He wants to see what the outside world is like; he also has a major crush on Candy. The boyfriend goes off to war and leaves Homer to work, more or less happily, picking apples for his family business. Candy has trouble being alone; the expected sparks fly.

Much of The Cider House Rules might feel pretty derivative on paper. We've seen a lot of the plot elements before, including a lovable orphan with bronchitis. Yet Irving's clean, economical dialogue and Hallström's beautifully morose direction cut the fat off of the cliches, whittling them down to useful archetypes. This movie joins a roster of other recent films -- Magnolia, Girl, Interrupted, Cradle Will Rock -- that express yearning for surrogate families in times of disconnection, and Cider House is the best of the lot. It also boasts the best performances, from Delroy Lindo as the apple-picking crew boss to the singer Erykah Badu in an impressively low-key acting debut as his traumatized daughter Rose.

This is Homer's story (Maguire turns in another subtle job here), so we don't get to see as much of Michael Caine as we'd like to; Dr. Larch is a supporting player, one of the movie's two flawed father figures. Caine takes a potentially idealized character and makes him absorbing through hard-headed realism. It's not until later that you realize how painful the doctor's job is -- forever losing his surrogate sons -- and how quietly moving Caine is. The movie isn't flawless; the tragedies pile up a little too thick near the end, as if Irving had noticed the two-hour mark approaching and rushed to wrap things up.

Still, 'The Cider House Rules' casts a glum spell; it feels more substantial than the usual coming-of-age movie. The more you think about it later, the larger it gets -- much unlike most films these days, which only seem to get smaller.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1669&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/27/07 08:25:27
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User Comments

6/20/14 dr.lao Caine earned his Oscar here 4 stars
6/14/12 The Madison Swede Addicting...but always cry through the whole thing. 5 stars
3/14/10 PAUL SHORTT BEAUTIFULLY CRAFTED, TOUCHING AND WELL ACTED 5 stars
2/15/10 vijay kulkarni excellent movie, stays with you for a while 5 stars
12/23/09 John Smith It treats powerful subjects and slowly meanders about them letting the viewer decide 4 stars
12/14/09 homer once in a rare while, a very beautiful and unforgettable movie comes along. 5 stars
12/02/08 Shaun Wallner Well made. 4 stars
11/23/08 C. Kohll Excellent film. Multiple moral issues at work, very well done. 5 stars
9/14/07 Tracy LOVE this movie!!!! 5 stars
8/11/07 fools♫gold Gotta question Theron's character's comment on smoking at that time, but what do I know? 4 stars
3/14/07 jennifer I love this story and i dont care what other people say! 5 thumbs up! 5 stars
4/20/06 christine glenn I was an enjoyable film, portrayed well, john irving has done a great job 4 stars
11/23/04 John Armitt Lasse Hallstrøm direction at its best 5 stars
10/24/03 laurabetty surprisingly addictive! 5 stars
9/21/03 R.W. Welch Slow and a bit soapy but nicely acted. (It's no King Kong.) 4 stars
8/02/03 john Propaganda need not be in theatres 1 stars
4/08/03 Mystique Wonderful! 5 stars
2/01/03 Phil M. Aficionado Thoughtful and thought provoking. Beautifully conceived and done. Lump in the throatish 5 stars
3/18/02 Teresa Well done story of one orphan, Homer Wells. Haunting. 5 stars
2/25/02 Jenny Tullwartz Cider louse druels! Charlixe Theron so wicked my nephew didn't even enjoy her bare ass! 2 stars
2/21/02 Xaver There is some solid acting...a bit depressing. 4 stars
1/21/02 Andrew Carden Wonderful, but Dramatic Movie. 5 stars
9/10/01 Carrie It was a little slow at first - but definitely a MUST see! 4 stars
8/27/01 Will Tobey and Charlize where fucking awesome 5 stars
7/23/01 D.R. Even ignoring it's one-sided PC pro-abortion rant, it still didn't offer much 1 stars
6/26/01 Tzila Seewald It's makes me cry! 5 stars
5/30/01 Jake McGuire is flawless. Caine's performance was overrated. 5 stars
5/15/01 Emm I cried first time around Tobey McGuire is brilliant :) 5 stars
4/23/01 Linda Blomfelt excellent movie; good story line; well acted 5 stars
4/21/01 Juliet Appiah I personally think the movie more than excellent 5 stars
3/23/01 veronica Awesome. Toby McGuire is so hot. 5 stars
2/27/01 Elvisfan It was OK, not such a big deal & where did Caine get that accent? 3 stars
2/01/01 Dan Waldman The Cider House RULES! 5 stars
1/18/01 Terrie Smith Great cinematography; nice music; Caine's fine performance. However, slightly overrated. 4 stars
11/29/00 Cristopher Revilla heat warming movie, you won't be dissapointed 5 stars
11/03/00 john linton roberson Bland, oddly flavorlesss adaptation of a truly great book. 3 stars
6/12/00 Lisa One of the best, most powerful films I've ever seen!!! 5 stars
5/15/00 Tracy Two fab things: Tobey Maguire and John Irving. 5 stars
4/01/00 Arnaldo Cruz good movie but Y have seen better not nominated for an academy 4 stars
3/24/00 Jennifer Offensive. Immoral. Bad acting. 1 stars
3/20/00 Malbert Did I miss something? I'm wondering how this shitty movie got even 1 oscar nomination 2 stars
3/01/00 PhilmPhreak A truly fine film. 4 stars
2/27/00 Bueller A thoughtful tale woven with care. Very enjoyable. 4 stars
2/26/00 Joanie Great movie. Maguire and Caine are excellent. 5 stars
2/22/00 ZXasd asd 5 stars
2/22/00 toneely I've seen this movie three times now.because I wanted my friends to see something GREAT 5 stars
2/19/00 "Persnickety "Jenn Michael Caine is amazing as always, very nice film 5 stars
1/21/00 Spetters Hallstrom was the only man to tackle Irving! Magnificent! 5 stars
1/17/00 Mic Excellent in all departments - directing, writing, acting. Worth a look. 4 stars
1/09/00 Pierce Lanson Challenging subject matter, Micael Caine is great , warm ,nice relationships, I loved it. 4 stars
1/08/00 Kate One of the best films released in ages. Wonderful story and well developed characters. 5 stars
12/19/99 schmo3 One of the year's biggest disappointments. 2 stars
12/19/99 Mr Showbiz While charming, an extended anti-climax. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  17-Dec-1999 (PG-13)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  13-Jan-2000 (M)


Directed by
  Lasse Hallström

Written by
  John Irving

Cast
  Tobey Maguire
  Charlize Theron
  Michael Caine
  Delroy Lindo
  Paul Rudd
  Kathy Baker



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