The Cider House Rules (1999)
December 4, 2014 10:40 AM - Subscribe

A compassionate young man, raised in an orphanage and trained to be a doctor there, decides to leave to see the world.

A compassionate young man, raised in an orphanage and trained to be a doctor there, decides to leave to see the world.

WHAT DID ROGER EBERT THINK? From his film review (2 stars):
"The Cider House Rules" tells the story of an orphan who is adopted by his own orphanage and reared by the doctor in charge – who sees him as a successor. At one point he runs away to pick apples and fall in love, but his fate awaits him and has been sealed at his birth.

At least, I think that's what the story is about. Other critics have zeroed in on the movie's treatment of abortion. Dr. Larch (Michael Caine), in charge of the orphanage, will provide abortions without question because, in the 1930s and 1940s, he wants to save young women from the coat-hook artists of the back alleys. He has taught Homer (Tobey Maguire), his protege, everything he knows about medicine, but Homer is opposed to abortion.

This results in a "controversial pro-choice stance on abortion" (David Rooney, Variety), or "it makes men the arbiters of what happens to a woman's body" (Amy Taubin, Village Voice). James Berardinelli, a leading Web critic, thinks it provides a "reasonably balanced perspective" on the debate, but Peter Brunette, another leading Web critic, doesn't even mention Homer's doubts. Nor does the New York Times.
Ebert concludes, "The story touches many themes, lingers with some of them, moves on and arrives at nowhere in particular. It's not a story so much as a reverie about possible stories."

THE BEST: Michael Caine turns in a superb performance as the ether-addicted doctor, truly one of his best performances. Maine is the unspoken star of the film; the director uses a palette of white, browns, maroons, and golden-yellows. The film is a visual feast.

THE WORST: Ebert mentions that Toby Maguire is "almost maddeningly monotone" and I have to agree with him.

Trivia from Wikipedia entry for the film (not the book):
  • "John Irving documented his involvement in bringing the novel to the screen in his book, My Movie Business."
  • John Irving won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, while Michael Caine won his second Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, his first coming in 1986 for the film Hannah and Her Sisters."
  • Academy Awards Nominations and Wins
  • Wiki entry for director Lars Sven "Lasse" Hallström (FanFare: The Hoax, 2006)
YouTube: Trailer

"Goodnight you princes of Maine, you kings of New England..."
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My main memory of this film is that my sister and I (both high schoolers) went to see it with our lovely but prudish grandfather, and, having no inkling beforehand of the abortion aspects of the story, we were all terribly embarrassed. I should watch it again, now that I'm an adult, and unlikely to be bothered by a plot that deals with the ramifications of sex.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:25 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Boo to scrapping Melony.
CHR was also staged as a two night play that kept her.
posted by brujita at 7:18 AM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

I remember how pissed Jude Law looked at the Oscars when Michael Caine won.
posted by brujita at 11:10 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

When this came out I was still a pretty enormous John Irving fan. (I don't dislike him now, but I did subsequently lose interest.) I felt pretty sure I would hate this movie because of my devotion to the book – it’s one of his best I think, maybe second only to A Prayer for Owen Meany. Also, the book is so long, I couldn’t imagine how an adaption would even work!

Anyone here read the book? How to does it compare?
posted by latkes at 10:49 AM on December 8, 2014

This is one of my absolute favorite books.
I despise the movie. I mean, far beyond the usual "oh, the book is so much better than the movie" feeling, the movie removes all the subtle complexity and nuanced characterization and treatment of the theme that make the book so satisfying, and flattens it into a one-dimensional story.

The removal of Melony alone completely alters the book into something unrecognizable.
posted by Superplin at 4:00 PM on December 8, 2014

I've read and seen all adaptations of CHR....and Irving wrote the screenplay.

It's the one I like best of the movies I've seen made from Irving's books (still haven't seen Garp).
posted by brujita at 5:45 PM on December 8, 2014

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