Marvin’s Room - * * *

Well acted, but not often believable, dysfunctional family drama. Meryl Streep stars as Lee, a domineering single mother/cosmetologist in Cleveland, who is raising two children. The eldest (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a semi-insane rebel, put in a mental institution after attempting to burn down their house. The youngest simply tries his best to please his mother and not stand out. When Lee receives word that her sister Bessie (Diane Keaton), whom she has not spoken to in 20 years, is in need of a bone marrow transplant, she takes her two sons down to Florida to reunite with her estranged family. Bessie has spent the last twenty years caring for her bedridden father, and her eccentric aunt. The film spends its time examining the relationship of the two diametrically opposed sisters and the family that revolves around them. Marvin’s Room is obviously a film the actors loved…they get to emote and show their acting chops at every turn. However, the characters and developments seem a bit contrived. They seem written…not real, even though the actors do a good job. Still, there are several funny situations, but the film never touches you as deep as it wants to.

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