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The United States of Leland January 22, 2007

Posted by Shujath in English, Movies, Reviews.

This is the kind of movie which entertains while it lasts but nevertheless irritates because it tries to be too intelligent when it actually isn’t. Leland (Ryan Gosling) is arrested for the horrifying murder of his girlfriend’s retarded brother. While in prison he forms a bond with his teacher Pearl (Don Cheadle) who in turn tries to learn why Leland committed such a shocking crime and what was going on in his mind when he committed it. Add to this setting a whole bunch of dysfunctional characters and you have a movie which surely will make it to the film festival circuit.

The screenplay is quite engaging as Leland recollects major incidents in his life which try to throw light on his actions. But the seemingly thoughtful and psychological explorations about the “nature of crime” and “guilt” looked totally BS to me. There is also a parallel storyline dealing with the victim’s family and finally things come to a somewhat logical conclusion.

The cast has prominent names like Kevin Spacey, Don Cheadle and upcoming young actors like Ryan Gosling (The Notebook), Chris Klein (American Pie) and Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain). On the whole this is a film which I found tough to judge. It works very well in engaging the audience with its convoluted screenplay but it falters with the actual content ending up being totally pointless. You might want to watch if you are looking for something “different” from the usual but that’s about it.


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