Monday, December 6, 2010

#212 Rain Man (1988)


Director: Barry Levinson

Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino, Gerald M. Molen, Jack Murdock, Michael D. Roberts, Ralph Seymour

Selfish, egotistical Los Angeles car salesman Charlie Babbit (Cruise) has just found out that his father has died. He makes a U-turn on the highway with his girlfriend in the car, and he heads to the funeral out of obligation. When he finds out that all he receives from his estranged father's estate is his old car and some rose bushes, Charlie goes on a mission to find the 'elusive' trustee who got his father's 3 mil.

But Charlie gets an answer he never expected. The trustee is a brother (Hoffman) he never knew he had–an autistic savant, living in an institution in his hometown of Cincinnati. Outraged and desperate to get the money, Charlie abducts his brother and begins a long road trip across the country back to LA. Along the way, this self-centered man must care for his high-maintenance, disabled brother. In the process, he learns patience, forgiveness, and compassion, and suddenly, Charlie finds himself wanting to hold onto his brother for reasons other than money.

Hands down– the best acting of Dustin Hoffman's career. Tom Cruise, though unexperienced in this role, plays the asshole like no other as well. A challenging topic for a film which was given up by many directors before Levinson took the script–the film challenges the conventions and our comfort-level with our own conceited natures and prejudices. As we watch the over-the-top Charlie learn the value of familial love, there is something beautiful in the way that Raymond's (Hoffman) condition is unknowingly forgiving to Charlie's brutal behavior.

In the end, it's a heart-felt roadie film. A touching story, an unlikely narrative, but with great comedic relief. The real star of this film is the acting, in which Hoffman will astound you.

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