Rain Man, 1988
Directed by Barry Levinson
Nominated for 8 Oscars, Won 4
Up Against: The Accidental Tourist, Dangerous Liasons, Mississippi Burning, Working Girl
Synopsis: Charlie Babbit is living in LA, working as a down-and-out automobile salesman. When Charlie hears word that his father has died, he barely feels anything. He and his father have had an estranged relationship since Charlie was sixteen years old, when he borrowed his fathers 1948 Buick convertible without permission, with his friends, got pulled over for 'stealing a car', and his father left him in jail for 2 days while he friends all made bail. Charlie goes to his father's funeral, and then learns that his father's money ($3 million) is going into a trust, and Charlie has only been left the 1948 Buick, and his father's prized rose bushes. While in searches of finding out who the $3 million has gone to, he discovers he has an older brother. His name is Raymond, he's an autistic man living at a home for special needs patients, and he has inherited the $3 million. Charlie is angry, he never knew about Raymond, and that Ray has no need for this money. He decides to "take" his brother from his home, and tries to bargain him for the money, all while traveling cross-country with his autistic brother, hardly knowing how to deal with him.
When I started up this project, my mum was really excited that I would be watching this movie. My dad too, and several other people I knew told me this was an amazing movie. So naturally, I was excited to watch it. I was even more excited after watching Kramer vs Kramer, and seeing Dustin Hoffman as a great actor.
Personally, I found the plot a little slow. Most of the movie was spent in Charlie and Ray traveling across country, and Charlie getting annoyed and yelling at Ray, and Ray just being, well, Ray, and living in his own little world. There was a small plot about Charlie's car company, how it's about to go under, and how he'll owe people a lot of money, and he's broke. There's the little plot about the $3 million, and trying to gain custody of his brother so he can have the money. Oh, and all the funny things they do on their way to LA, like Charlie finding out Ray has a special talent with numbers. They go to Vegas and Ray counts cards so that Charlie can pay back his clients, with which their deals have fallen through. But this movie is really about Charlie and Ray. Charlie trying to come to terms on how to deal with Ray, about how Ray isn't "in there somewhere", this is just how he is. And just dealing with the fact that he had a brother he never knew about.
But above all, this was really a showcase for Dustin Hoffman. Dustin Hoffman playing Ray, the autistic man, who recites "Who's On First?" when nervous, watches Jeopardy at 5 everyday, has lights out at 11, and doesn't like to fly on planes because they crash, likes clothes from K-Mart, and memorizes everything he reads. While Dustin Hoffman was originally cast as Charlie, he changed his mind after encountering Leslie Lemke, who was blind, mentally handicapped, and had cerebal palsy but who could play full piano concertos by ear. He spent a year working with autistic people and their families to try and understand them better, and how they think, and deal with relationships. And this really paid off. Dustin Hoffman was so utterly convincing that I couldn't believe he was that father I had seen in Kramer vs Kramer, that he wasn't autistic. Even though Hoffman reportedly said that this was his "worst work" while filming, he won his second Oscar. And rightly so. His performance was absolutely incredible. While autism was known to some people in the 80's, Hoffman really give a face to what autism was, and really changed people's perspectives on it.
And then there's Tom Cruise. Many people seem to not mention how really good he was too. He and Hoffman had such great chemistry, and you really believed they were somehow brothers. Charlie is erratic and abrasive, and he simply cannot understand Ray at first, thinking his needs and antics are an act. But he slowly comes to terms with who Ray is, and what Ray is to him. And he plays this so well. He's really able to hold his own much of the time, and does a great job.
Overall, this movie was a wonderful treat. The acting was superb, even if the story was a tad weak and didn't really wrap everything up in the end. Hoffman gave one of the best performances I've seen thus far. This film also features Hans Zimmers first Hollywood score, and got Dustin Hoffman his second Best Actor award, as well with winning, Picture, Director and Screenplay. Overall, a good movie.
Music – 8/10
Emotional Connection- 8/10
Overall Enjoyment- 7.5/10
Overall Package- 7/10