1999 Running time: 124 Certificate: 12 Rating: 3

Synopsis

Coming-of-age drama based on the novel by John Irving, starring Tobey Maguire, Charlize Theron and Michael Caine. In 1940s Maine, an orphan discovers first love - and some of the harsher realities of adult life.

Director

  • Lasse Hallstrom

Cast

  • Michael Caine

  • Erykah Badu

  • Charlize Theron

  • Tobey Maguire

  • Delroy Lindo

  • Paul Rudd

Review

The Cider House Rules brought the understated charm of 1940's New England to the big screen.

It became an instant classic which raked up seven Oscar nominations and won two; Best Supporting Actor for Michael Caine and Best Adapted Screenplay for writer John Irving.

In Hallstrom's adaptation of Irving's novel, the author's fantastical world of wonders and the director's tender-hearted compassion mesh into what is easily the finest film realization of an Irving novel.

The movie is really only a fragment of that novel, scaled down to conventional movie length, and the novel's exhaustive examination of abortion (both its moral and medical aspects) has been greatly softened.

What's left is a gentle, beautifully acted fable about a young man's journey into the world, his loss of innocence and his acquiring of values that reflect the lessons learned on his journey.

Michael Caine plays Dr Wilbur Larch who runs a Maine orphanage, where he takes in unwanted children, delivers babies and argues for the necessity of abortion.

It is here that Homer (Tobey Maguire) grows up under his tutelage.

Although Homer never attends medical school, by the time he leaves St. Cloud's he knows both how to deliver and abort babies.

Homer moves on to a job at an orchard and cider brewery, where he befriends the black staff, including the foreman (Delroy Lindo) and his daughter.

Homer's incursion into the world - his introduction to apple-picking, race issues, movies and sexuality - feels like a neatly plotted shorthand for his coming of age.

Caine and Maguire are outstanding among the exemplary cast of this poignant Dickensian drama, which is shot through with an endearingly offbeat sense of humour as it follows the initially naïve and idealistic Homer Wells on an eventful journey of coming-of-age and self-discovery.

It is rendered deeply affecting under the direction of Lasse Hallstrom, and is shot by Oliver Stapleton in subdued tones which reflect its mood.

Lacking space for the book's exploration of Homer's soul-searching, the film is nevertheless a wonderful mix of laughter, tears, and human emotion.

The Cider House Rules is an emotionally rich experience, dealing with tough issues like abandonment, abortion, incest, and drug addiction.

Natalie Stone