Hello everyone, and welcome to 111 Archer Avenue. What started as a film review blog has become my online judgment forum. I will review the occasional movie or DVD, post an interesting trailer, critique a newly-read book, talk about sports, and share my thoughts and opinions on random issues. You can also follow me on Twitter (@OlieCoen) or check out my work on DVDTalk.com. Thank you and enjoy!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Movie Review - The Cider House Rules

Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Michael Caine, Charlize Theron
Year: 1999

Watching a movie based on a book that you loved is always a little tricky.  Of course a film can't have every detail in it that a novel can.  And of course some themes will be left out, some content will be diluted.  But in order for a movie version of a great book to be successful it has to take on a life of its own.  It has to stay true to the novel but create a brand new feeling that viewers will always remember independently.  The Cider House Rules is no different; the book (read my review of it here) was so amazing that there is no way the movie could top it, but what it could do was give the characters a whole new definition.  It did so, and that's why it was almost as good as the original.

Both the book and the film tell the story of two places; "Here in St. Cloud's" and "In other parts of the world".  St. Cloud's is an orphanage in Maine run by the god-like Dr. Larch.  He operates the hospital there, giving the women who come to him two choices; to deliver a baby or to be delivered of a baby.  His view on abortion is not one that is held by his assistant Homer.  Being an orphan himself and a life-long resident of St. Cloud's, Homer sees value in every single life.  When Dr. Larch begins to train Homer to be his replacement, the two struggle to see eye to eye on this illegal practice, and Homer begins to wonder what other life might be waiting for him outside the orphanage walls.

His life changes drastically when he meets Candy and Wally.  The young couple have come to St. Cloud's for an abortion, and, when they leave, Homer is so taken with them that he asks to travel with them to Wally's family's apple orchard on the coast.  There he begins his first job, sees his first lobster, and falls in love.  Matters are complicated when Wally leaves for another deployment in the war, leaving Candy alone and lonely.  Homer attempts to stay out of trouble, but his infatuation with Candy and his relationship with the migrant workers who call the Cider House their home push him toward choices that will set the stage for the rest of his life.

Let me just say that the book was one of the best I have ever read.  I could not have been more invested in the characters, the setting, the time, everything.  So I assumed that the movie would be overshadowed, and to some extent it was.  But what the film had in its favor was the ability to bring a brand new light to the story.  It painted Homer and Candy in a different way, while still staying true to the novel.  This was done in part by having the author, John Irving, write the screenplay.  So while much was left out, the core remained and made for a very engaging film.  Caine as Dr. Larch was perfection, Maguire and Theron were good, and even the very funny Paul Rudd as Wally was believable.  All in all, a good movie that did a great job of setting itself far enough apart from the book that it could be taken seriously.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰

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