Homer is an orphan in remote St. Cloud, Maine. Never adopted, he becomes the favorite of orphanage director Dr. Larch, who imparts his full medical knowledge on Homer, who becomes a skilled, albeit unlicensed, physician. But Homer yearns for a self-chosen life outside the orphanage. When Wally and pregnant Candy visit the orphanage Dr. Larch provides medically safe, albeit illegal, abortions Homer leaves with them to work on Wally's family apple farm. Wally goes off to war, leaving Homer and Candy alone together. What will Homer learn about life and love in the cider house? What of the destiny that Dr. Larch has planned for him?Written by
Martin Lewison <MLewison@utk.edu>
At one point, Matthew Broderick and Max Von Sydow were announced as the leads for " The Cider House Rules ". See more »
When the orphans watch King Kong, the giant ape peels off Ann Darrow's clothes. That scene was cut shortly after the premiere, and was not publicly available until 1971. See more »
[Opening narration; a couple of snippets of interspersed dialog are omitted]
Dr. Wilbur Larch:
In other parts of the world young men leave home and travel far and wide in search of a promising future. Their journeys are often fueled by dreams of triumphing over evil, finding a great love, or the hopes of fortunes easily made. Here in St. Cloud's not even the decision to get off the train is easily made, for it requires an earlier, more difficult decision - add a child to your life, or leave one ...
[...] See more »
Simply sublime, heartfelt, true Americana without all the drippy clichés...
The Cider House Rules (1999)
Playing with tough themes for the 19th Century (really tough, like many abortions and a father sleeping with his daughter as well as some casual drug use by a country doctor) and couching everything amidst a Maine culture of doing the best thing as much as humanly possible, this movie is a sentimental masterpiece. The sentiment keeps it from being quite unqualified masterpiece, but the naturalism of the three main actors (Michael Caine, Tobey Maguire, and Charlize Theron) makes it rather convincing. And touching.
The writing is also spot on, a bit of magic starting with John Irving's highly regarded novel, and his own screenplay. As the events compound and a tight group of principal characters gets further intertwined, their believability becomes essential as events become more sensational. And it works. It's almost an American fable with moral edges like "To Kill a Mockingbird," tightly knit and with a higher ground charted above the usual trench warfare around the issues, particularly illegal abortions.
The director Lasse Hallstrom is the wild card here, and deserves unusual praise coming almost out of nowhere on this almost meaning he did have "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" and "My Life as a Dog" behind him. We can only hope this Swedish director crosses the border often, or at least keeps making Swedish films that get distributed here in the U.S. (I have to confess I found his more recent "Shipping News" unbearable but I know a lot of people were really moved by it.)
Beyond the story and the stars, it's really worth saying the there is a cast of secondary characters--nurses at the orphanage and a crew of African-American apple pickers at the orchard--that deserve huge praise. And then there are the smaller characters, literally, the children. Here I give the actors credit but also Hallstrom for getting them to forget the camera and be themselves. I could have watched an extended version of many scenes because being there and having so many interesting convincing people around was enough.
But of course it's better trimmed down and efficient. And hard hitting. You'll cry, or you don't have a pulse. Or you're one of the cynical, which I get. For those who have a softer side for movies, this will win you over and turn your head.
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