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The United States of Leland (2003)

R | | Drama | 25 March 2005 (Italy)
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2:24 | Trailer

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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.

Director:

Matthew Ryan Hoge
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Don Cheadle ... Pearl Madison
Ryan Gosling ... Leland P. Fitzgerald
Chris Klein ... Allen Harris
Jena Malone ... Becky Pollard
Lena Olin ... Marybeth Fitzgerald
Kevin Spacey ... Albert T. Fitzgerald
Michelle Williams ... Julie Pollard
Martin Donovan ... Harry Pollard
Ann Magnuson ... Karen Pollard
Kerry Washington ... Ayesha
Sherilyn Fenn ... Mrs. Calderon
Matt Malloy ... Charlie
Wesley Jonathan ... Bengel
Michael Peña ... Guillermo
Michael Welch ... 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:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 March 2005 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

20 Messerstiche See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$48,384, 4 April 2004, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$343,816, 11 July 2004
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Ontario)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although they don't share any scenes together, this is the first time Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams have appeared in the same film. Seven years later, they co-starred in the film Blue Valentine (2010). See more »

Goofs

In the scene where Becky and Leland are walking at around 2 in the morning, in the background you can see it begin to rain, but both Leland's and Becky's clothes remain perfectly dry. 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 ...
See more »

Connections

Featured in Beyond Clueless (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

The Recluse
Written by Even Johansen
Performed by Magnet
Published by Universal Music Publishing Ltd.
Administered by Universal-Polygram
International Publishing, Inc. (ASCAP)
Courtesy of Rec 90 Norway
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User Reviews

 
Original and thought provoking
12 March 2005 | by dfranzen70See all my reviews

Leland P. Fitzgerald (Ryan Gosling) has committed an unspeakable crime, the stabbing of the retarded younger brother of his ex-girlfriend Becky (Jena Malone). No one, least of all Leland himself, can explain why he's done what he's done, whether the act was premeditated or spontaneous, done out of hatred or love.

In the detention center, Leland meets Pearl Madison (Don Cheadle), a onetime novel writer who sees in Leland's case a second opportunity. But Pearl also wants to understand Leland's motivation and takes him under his wing as a confidante in the prison.

The film jumps from the past to the present several times, often allowing the past to act as a context to the present, and vice versa. Writer/director Matthew Ryan Hodge shows how Leland's crime - and the events leading up to it - affect the people in his life, from Becky to her family to Leland's mother (Lena Olin) and estranged father (Kevin Spacey) to Allen (Chris Klein), a young man who is staying with Becky's family after the death of his own mother.

The chief asset in the movie is Gosling, who is perfectly cast as the 15-year-old pseudopsychopath. Like Bartleby the Scrivener, Gosling's Leland just exists; he shows little emotion during the film, but instead his expressions belie an ocean of guilt, sadness, love, and rage.

Each of the main actors offered perhaps their best work to date, save Spacey (who's not exactly a novice). Special praise is due to Malone and Klein, two young performers who are better known for lighthearted comedy fare than the heavy drama of this movie.

Another huge benefit in terms of the story is that none of the characters is flawless; none are heroes out to save the day. This is simply not a black-and-white movie.


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