Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1988. United Artists, The Guber-Peters Company, Star Partners II Ltd.. Story by Barry Morrow, Screenplay by Ronald Bass, Barry Morrow. Cinematography by John Seale. Produced by Mark Johnson. Music by Hans Zimmer. Production Design by Ida Random. Costume Design by Bernie Pollack. Film Editing by Stu Linder.
This touching family drama was completely overrated at the time of its release but it still has good reason to be remembered. Tom Cruise plays a bitter, emotionally distant importer of fancy foreign cars who learns that his father has died, putting him in the position to inherit a great fortune. What he discovers at the reading of his father’s will, however, is that all the money he was expecting to get has gone to a brother he never knew about, a much older autistic sibling (Dustin Hoffman) who has been living in a care home ever since Cruise was an infant. Visiting Hoffman for the first time, Cruise suddenly gets the idea to kidnap him and take him across the country until he can figure out a way to solve his own money problems. Hoffman convincingly portrays a member of the mentally challenged community, but whatever emotional depth he brings to the role pales in comparison to the marvelous work Cruise does as the brother who actually makes a breakthrough. Valeria Golino is perfect as Cruise’s concerned girlfriend, an emotionally generous woman who is constantly on the edge of being fed up with this man who won’t reveal himself to her. Barry Levinson has made far better films, but he also brings a sense of reality to this one that most Hollywood directors probably wouldn’t have done, particularly in the finale which avoids the easy pat-happy ending and tries for a more ambiguous finish to a bittersweet story.
Academy Awards: Best Picture; Best Actor (Dustin Hoffman); Best Director (Barry Levinson); Best Original Screenplay
Nominations: Best Cinematography; Best Art Direction; Best Film Editing; Best Original Score
Berlin Film Festival Award: Golden Lion
Golden Globe Awards: Best Picture-Drama; Best Actor-Drama (Dustin Hoffman)
Nominations: Best Director (Barry Levinson); Best Screenplay