The Cider House Rules (1999)
Cider With Tobey
Goodnight, you princes of Maine, you kings of New England - Dr. Wilbur Larch
"The Cider House Rules" is a very pleasant film, which is full of sentiment and beautiful scenes, but is not over sickly sweet. From what I have read, this is an adaptation of the novel by John Irving, and like so many other adaptations of books, it doesn't achieve the excellence of the book, but to be honest how many adaptations manage to compete with the written prose. "The Cider House Rules" focuses on the character of Homer Wells as he battles with his own morals, and what his calling in life is, while he discovers the world outside of the sheltered orphanage.
Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire - This Boy's Life) has spent all of his formative years as an orphan at the St. Clouds Orphanage in Maine. Over the years, and a couple of failed adoptions, he has become like a son to the orphanage's director, Dr. Larch (Michael Caine - Shadow Run). Larch has educated him in many medical practices which include child birth and abortion, in the hope that one day he would take over the reins of the orphanage. Unfortunately, Homer feels that he needs to experience the world outside of the orphanage, so that he can find his own destiny, as he struggles with the moral issues of the illegal but safe abortions that Dr. Larch conducts. Whilst away from the orphanage, Homer gets work as an apple picker, where he falls in love with the beautiful Candy (Charlize Theron - Devil's Advocate), the daughter in law to be of the orchard owner. He also makes friends with the other travelling fruit pickers. His new life and experiences, teaches him some valuable lessons about the work and to where his true destiny lies.
"The Cider House Rules" is very easy to watch as it flows along at an enjoyable pace with the right amount of detail so that you can get an understanding of the main characters. Part of its appeal is that although it deals with some touch moral issues, it doesn't really force its opinion on you.
In the lead role of Homer Wells is Tobey Maguire whose performance creates a character of a pleasant young man who is a little bit naïve to the way of the world. There's not a bad word I can say about Maguire's performance as he demonstrates the angst that Homer goes through as he questions his morals. Dr. Larch, the director of the orphanage, is played by Michael Caine. Although his accent is some what dubious, it does not detract from a very good performance as he becomes a father figure to Homer.
In the role of Homer's girlfriend/lover is Charlize Theron who not only provides some feminine beauty to the production but also plays the woman torn between two lovers very convincingly. In supporting roles you have the likes of Delroy Lindo, Paul Rudd and Kieran Culkin (Father of the Bride).
"The Cider House Rules" is directed by Lasse Hallström who has more recently directed Casanova. I feel that Hallström has delivered a well balanced film which at times could have floated off and become sickly sweet behind rose tinted glasses, but instead he has stayed focused on telling the story. It is no surprise that with film being set in Maine, we are treated to some beautiful back drops which match the beauty of the story. The sound track is also very good as it complements the mood of each scene.
What this all boils down to is that "The Cider House Rules" is a very pleasant drama, which although it deals with some sensitive moral issues it does do it in an unoffending manner. Yes the film is very sentimental, but that is part of its appeal, and it is not overly sickly sweet. Whether or not it is a disappointing adaptation of the novel is something that I can't comment on, but as a film in its own rights is very good. Fans of dramas such as Fried Green Tomatoes will find this appealing.
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