Marvin’s Room (1996)

JERRY ZAKS

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

USA, 1996.  Scott Rudin Productions, Tribeca Productions.  Screenplay by , based on his play.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by

Strong adaptation of Scott McPherson’s intimate stage play that is now a beautiful film about rediscovering family. , in a marvelous performance, plays a woman who has just been diagnosed with leukemia while she is still taking care of her aging aunt () and ailing father (). In order to relieve her burdens, her kindly doctor () tracks down her estranged sister (), with whom she hasn’t spoken in twenty years, to see if a bone marrow transplant is possible. Streep comes to Florida where her sister lives, bringing along her two sons, one troubled () and one curious and young (). The awkwardness that they feel soon gives way to personal revelation thanks to Keaton’s constant love for all of them, particularly her generosity to the unhappy, angst-ridden DiCaprio. Famed Broadway director Jerry Zaks gets the most wonderful performances out of the whole cast in his feature film debut, keeping the story’s less interesting qualities at bay and punching up the emotional impact of the whole experience.

Academy Award Nomination:  Best Actress (Diane Keaton)

Golden Globe Award Nomination:  Best Actress-Drama (Meryl Streep)

Screen Actors Guild Award Nominations:  Outstanding Ensemble Cast; Best Actress (Diane Keaton); Best Supporting Actress (Gwen Verdon)

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