I recently got round to watching ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape‘, a moving tale of one young man’s inner struggles with himself, the death of his father, his dysfunctional family and the pressures they put on him. Johnny Depp plays Gilbert and drives the film and its story forward. The simple tale is carried by Depp and enhanced by the striking performances from a very young Leonardo DiCaprio and a sensational Juliette Lewis. The plot moves rather slowly and we learn to love the characters whilst observing their day to day lives. It is a film about the huge effects that the little things have upon us and the human psyche.
|What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)|
As the film drew to a close I began to realise that it would have been nothing more than a slightly stretched out kitchen sink drama if it was not for Johnny Depp and his subtle performance. Depp captivates and seduces his audience with a mere twitch of an eyebrow and the faintest of smiles. Whilst contemplating the admirable cinematic ability of Depp, I suddenly realised that is has been almost nine years since Depp’s last earth shatteringly brilliant performance. Other than Michael Mann’s 2009 noir gangster-biographic Public Enemies, Depp has disappointed me in almost every film choice he has made since 2004. This is a travesty. Depp is often considered, by film critics such as Mark Kermode, to be a silent actor caught up in the wrong era; due to his astonishing use of facial expression and body language. There is no denying that Depp is one of the most prolific actors of the last few decades and I am saddened to see him being left behind by the likes of DiCaprio or Pitt who are forever making their mark upon cinema, amidst the odd sell-out movies such as the hideous Mr & Mrs. Smith or Titanic.
Depp always strikes me as an actor who uses his craft to express himself. His longing for privacy echoes back to screen legends such as Robert De Niro and his collaboration with director Tim Burton leads us to view him as a star auteur as well as just another Hollywood actor. Yet, where Scorsese and De Niro always pushed each other further, Burton, in more recent years, seems to hold Depp back. This partnership has become to feel a little too lazy and a little too comfortable. I shudder at the thought of Burton’s Alice in Wonderland or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Burton, with the help of Depp, successfully tainted my childhood memories of Dahl’s story, Gene Wilder’s character and Lewis Carroll’s imaginary world.
|Burton & Depp (2010)|
There is no denying the beauty of their early collaborative work in films such as Edward Scissorhands but as the years pass their work makes me yawn wider and wider. I have never been a huge Tim Burton fan and have always felt slightly alone in my hatred for the mind-numbingly monotonous Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. I am growing restless with Depp’s recent film choices and when I began to look back over his wonderful portfolio that includes Blow, Donnie Brasco, Finding Neverland and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (not a film I am fond of, but a film in which Depp gives a monumental performance), I was horrified to read of his possible involvement in the FIFTH Pirates of the ‘Box-Office’-ibbean.
|Donnie Brasco (1997)|
On that note I sunk back into my chair and reached for my glass of red wine, in order to comfort myself. Hurry up and make a credible piece of cinema Johnny, the world is waiting. If Pirates of the ‘Box-Office’-ibbean 5 is made and, more tragically, watched by audiences, then pass me another glass of wine, for there is no hope for humanity.
|Depp’s gruesome death scene: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)Thanks for reading and let’s all keep supporting our beloved film industry|