The United States Of Leland (2003)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB

USA, 2003.  MDP Worldwide, Media 8 Entertainment, Thousand Words, Trigger Street Productions.  Screenplay by Matthew Ryan Hoge.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

After a teenager (Ryan Gosling) murders a mentally challenged boy his own age, he is sent to prison where he spends his days being taught by the jail’s teacher (Don Cheadle) while his friends and family and the family of the victim sit in their homes and wonder how it all could have happened. Cheadle finds the young man fascinating, and encourages him to write while considering writing a book about him, even going so far as to contact Gosling’s unlikable, successful novelist father (Kevin Spacey). This unimpressive look into the world of American suburbia falls behind the many other films of its kind that have preceded it, and doesn’t have much original material to offer. It also isn’t all that great as a character study: they all end up in the same place that they were at the beginning, making you wonder why you even bothered to watch it. Cheadle’s character is too shallow to be as appealing as a great actor of his caliber could make him, and Spacey not given enough screen time to be effective.

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