MARVIN'S ROOM Add To My Top 10

A Family Reunion

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Release Date: December 01, 1996

Starring: Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Diane Keaton, Robert De Niro, Hume Cronyn, & Gwen Verdon

Genre: Drama

Audience: Adults

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 100 minutes

Distributor: Miramax Films

Director: Jerry Zaks

Executive Producer:

Producer: Scott Rudin, Jane Rosenthal & Robert DeNiro

Writer: Scott McPherson

Address Comments To:

Harvey & Robert Weinstein, Co-Chairmen
Miramax Films
375 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 941-3800

Content:

(B, L, V, D, M) Moral worldview with pro-family elements including love & forgiveness, 3 obscenities & 1 profanity; mild violence including throwing things; chain smoking; and anger & shouting

Summary:

MARVIN’S ROOM is the story of two estranged sisters played by Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton. After twenty years of silence, Aunt Bessie calls with the news that she has been diagnosed with leukemia and is searching for a bone marrow transplant. This call becomes a catalyst for the reunion of an estranged family. The movie provides a very positive message about the importance of family with only a little bad language to mar it. It succeeds as both thought-provoking and entertaining.

Review:

MARVIN’S ROOM is the dramatic story of two estranged sisters who find reunion. One sister, Bessie (played by Diane Keaton), has spent the last fifteen years caring for her invalid, bedridden father (played by Hume Cronyn) and her senile aunt Ruth. The other sister (played by Meryl Streep) has two sons and has spent most of her life trying to keep the eldest, Hank (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), out of jail. The two have not spoken to one another in twenty years. Though the reason for this estrangement is a little vague, it is apparent that the two have never gotten along.

Streep comes to prominence at the beginning of the movie when Hank burns down the house and is subsequently placed in a mental asylum. The conflict between Hank and his mom is intense and heated. The communication between the two is short and cutting. Hank can think of nothing but his father, who abandoned the family when he was young. Hank also idolizes his father as a big race car driver. Streep, meanwhile, can think of little else than getting her degree in cosmetology. It is a personal goal she can obtain. The younger brother (Hal Scardino) is the oddball in the bunch, reading constantly and acting as the family nerd. All these conflicts of interest are bought to culmination with a phone call from Aunt Bessie asking for help in the form of a bone marrow transplant because she has leukemia.

The remainder of the story centers around the two most needy members of the family: Hank and his aunt Bessie. Hank, a hard-nosed, unemotional, rebellious teenager, at first refuses to have anything to do with Bessie. He refuses to trust her or anyone else. Bessie, in a wonderful display of love and compassion, keeps trying to get through to him, to make a connection. Hank keeps saying he won’t have the bone marrow testing done, but Bessie keeps trying to reach her nephew whom she has just met. Slowly and tenderly, the relationship takes form, and Hank finds himself experiencing love and concern, important qualities missed in his relationship with his mother.

The story demonstrates the factors that play into the coming together of a family, of re-establishing priorities and the important things in life. The cast provides an impressive and delightful performance that relays on encouraging message about the family, regardless of how dysfunctional it may be. The movie tells the viewer that the family is a place for love and encouragement and sticking together.

From the comical antics of senile Aunt Ruth and her electric shock therapy machine, to the tender performance of Diane Keaton, the film shines as an uplifting and pleasant experience providing both entertainment and thoughtful reflection on the priorities of life. You will be pleased to know that Robert De Niro with a bit part as a doctor, swears only once. With not many objectionable elements, it is an intense but pro-family movie, for those who favor character study rather than special-effects excitement.

In Brief:

IN BRIEF:

MARVIN’S ROOM is the dramatic story of two estranged sisters who find reunion through conflict. One sister, Bessie (played by Diane Keaton), has spent the last fifteen years caring for invalid family members. The other sister (played by Meryl Streep) has spent most of her life trying to keep her eldest son, Hank, out of jail. The two women have not spoken to one another in twenty years. At the beginning, Hank burns down the house and is placed in a mental asylum. Family conflicts come to a head with a phone call from Aunt Bessie asking for help. She has leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant. Hank at first refuses to have anything to do with Bessie, but Bessie keeps trying to get through to him. Slowly and tenderly, the relationships are renewed among all family members, and pain is replaced with love.

The story demonstrates the coming together of a family and of re-establishing priorities. The cast provides an impressive and delightful performance that relays on encouraging message about the family, regardless of how dysfunctional it may be. The movie tells the viewer that the family is a place for love, encouragement and sticking together. Containing a few obscenities and only one profanity, it is a pro-family movie, for those who favor character study rather than special-effects excitement.