The amazing truth about this cast is that after this we don't really want to see these actors in other roles, so completely have they won us in these.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

No one will ever say of The Cider House Rules that the movie didn't live up to the book. John Irving has written a beautiful screen adaptation of his novel, and has enjoyed the rare good luck of seeing his work enhanced by director Lasse Hallstrom and an unusually sensitive cast. The characters develop so surely and deeply that they simply envelop the audience.

You will not forget the orphanage at St. Clouds, Maine. A passenger stepping onto the station platform looks up at the stark brick building carved onto a mountain ledge in the New England woods. It is a formidable place--unyielding, yet protective, of the children and adults who pass through and remain alone even when surrounded by others. Their inner lives are ours to imagine.

In 1943, unintended pregnancies still outnumber infertile couples. St. Clouds is one place where young women go to deliver their babies, leaving them behind as they return to the outside world. In some cases they request and receive illegal abortions from Dr. Wilbur Larch (Michael Caine), head of the orphanage, protector of the children, a man weighed down by the abandonment and heartbreak that surround him.

One of these boys is Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire), a boy who wins Dr. Larch's heart and earns a place at his side as his assistant. Trained by his mentor with deep generosity of spirit and intuitive common sense, Homer narrates the story sparely and without a whit of judgment. He allows the gentle sadness to seep, unarticulated, into our souls.

Yielding finally to the need to expand his life, Homer accepts a ride into the real world with Candy (Charlize Theron) and Wally (Paul Rudd), a young couple who came to St. Clouds to end Candy's pregnancy. Wally gives Homer a job picking apples in his family orchard business. Leaving behind his new friend, his girlfriend, and the life he has been groomed for, the handsome young G.I. goes off to war.

Ultimately the story is about Homer, Dr. Larch, and the emotional power of the orphanage that holds them both. Doing everything for the orphaned boys that parents are supposed to do, they carry the burden of that impossibility in their ministry. In a stunning casting surprise, Michael Caine astonishes us with his sad humanity. Tobey Maguire gives Homer an innocent purity that drives him and never dims. Jane Alexander and Kathy Baker offer presence and comfort as Nurses Edna and Angela. Delroy Lindo and Erykah Badu excel in the orchard scenes.

The amazing truth about this cast is that after this we don't really want to see these actors in other roles, so completely have they won us in these. Don't violate this story, please, by appearing as someone else in real life or pretend. Just stay the way you are-good people who drew the lot of being where "someone's going to get hurt, and it's no one's fault."

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 492
Studio : Miramar
Rating : PG-13
Running time : 2h11m

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