7.1/10
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104 user 64 critic

The United States of Leland (2003)

R | | Drama | 25 March 2005 (Italy)
A young man's experience in a juvenile detention center that touches on the tumultuous changes that befall his family and the community in which he lives.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Marybeth Fitzgerald
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Harry Pollard
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Karen Pollard
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Charlie
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Bengel
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Ryan Pollard
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Storyline

As a detached kid spends time in juvenile hall for the unspeakable murder of a special needs kid, a writer and the people around him try to comprehend and cope with his reasoning for commiting this murder from the writings in a classroom book from his juvenile class, where he tries to let people know "the why". Written by gavin Johns

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

boy | book | writer | teacher | author | See All (167) »

Taglines:

Crime. Confusion. Compassion. They're all just states of mind.

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some drug content | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

25 March 2005 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

20 Messerstiche  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$48,384 (USA) (2 April 2004)

Gross:

$343,816 (USA) (9 July 2004)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Ontario)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A recurring element of the film is the fact that Leland doesn't have any contact with his father, absent ever since his childhood. Ryan Gosling never shares any scenes with Kevin Spacey and in the courtroom sequence, even though both characters are present, they're never in the same frame. See more »

Goofs

When Leland is watching the basketball game with the other inmate, the sun is shining through the window, however, the shadows outside are cast in wrong direction. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Leland: When I say I don't remember that day, I'm not lying. Wish I did, but I just don't. Sometimes the most important stuff goes away. Goes away so bad, it's like it was never there to begin with. It's funny the stuff that sticks in your head. I could tell you forward and backward about one day when I was five, and my dad bought me a stupid ice cream cone. I could tell you the flavor of the ice cream. It was pick bubblegum. Even stuff about the girl who scooped it out. Her hair was fire ...
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Connections

Featured in Beyond Clueless (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

In My Old World
Written and Performed by Tobin Sprout
Published by I'm a Cowboy Songs (BMI)
Courtesy of Wigwam Records
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User Reviews

 
An extremely moving, touching, thought-provoking movie
7 November 2004 | by (Calgary, Canada) – See all my reviews

Leland Fitzgerald (Ryan Gosling) is sent to jail for the murder of an autistic kid. When pressured with the question 'Why?' he doesn't have an answer. While in jail he meets Pearl (Don Cheadle), his teacher, who decides to take matters into his own hands and helps Leland figure out why he did it. Throughout this film we learn all about Leland's troubled life, including his ex-girlfriend Becky(Jena Malone), his famous father Albert(Kevin Spacey)and his whole sad life.

This film is Matthew Ryan Hoge's second movie, and it is spectacular in nearly everyway. This is one movie which will leave you thinking in the end, and wondering about how it all works. The movie is quite dark, but if you can handle that then you will realize just how good a film it is.

In this movie, there is no bad guy. There is no one you can blame for anything that happens. There's no stereotyping, and the audience does not try to prove Leland guilty. Instead, we sit back, relax, and watch this boy's life unfold throughout the corse of the movie. All the problems depicted in the story are very real. Drug addiction, parental expectations, overwhelming sadness; they all exist in our world.

Ryan Gosling gives one of the greatest performances of his career in this movie, as the depressed teenager Leland. His father lives in Europe and doesn't really care much about his son. The only person he loves is Becky, but she has problems of her own. He knows exactly what he did, but as he says in the film, 'You want a why, but maybe there isn't one. Maybe this is something that just happened.' There is a why, but we don't find out about it until the end. As you watch the movie, the audience finds themselves amazed that such a young person could know so much about the world. Leland notices things that people tend to ignore.

A particular thought-provoking scene which really affected me was during one of Leland's conversations with Pearl. Pearl just cheated on his wife and when Leland asks why, Pearl replies that he's only human. Then Leland says something which never really occurs to anyone: "Why do people only say that when they've done something wrong?"

Another fantastic acting job was provided by Chris Klein. In the film he plays Allen Harris, the boyfriend of Becky's sister Julie (Michelle Williams). Although he is not one of the main characters, I found myself amazed at how deep his character was. You can relate to Allen a lot. You know how much he cares for the Pollard family. It's as if they were his own flesh and blood. By the end of the movie, you realize just how far he would go to help them.

Overall, this movie is a masterpiece which has been overlooked by quite a few people. If, however, you take the time to watch it, you will most likely see that everything I've mentioned above is true. And once you're finished watching it, you'll never look at the world the same way again.

9.5/10


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