The United States Of Leland (2003)

DVD Cover (Paramount)
Genres: Coming-Of-Age, Drama, Prison Film, Psychological Drama
After stabbing an autistic boy, the sixteen year old troubled and pessimist Leland P. Fitzgerald is sent to a juvenile detention. His teacher and aspirant writer Pearl Madison gets close and tries to understand him, first with intention of writing a book, and later becoming his friend. Leland slowly discloses his sad vision of world. --IMDb
Matthew Ryan Hoge Matthew Ryan Hoge
Don Cheadle Don Cheadle
Ryan Gosling Ryan Gosling
Chris Klein Chris Klein
Jena Malone Jena Malone
Lena Olin Lena Olin

7.1 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: April 02, 2007
This is not an easily accessible film. It dances around very serious topics, offers zero solutions and kind of leaves you feeling quiet and alone at the end. I don't think a great film does that. "The United States of Leland" is a good film driven by fine performances and interesting directorial pace, but it manages not to cross over into the Land of Great because it just doesn't seem to know what it really wants to be and why. When you have doubts as to whether the filmmakers know what they're seeking to gain -- how can the audience manage?

In an odd performance, Ryan Gosling stars as Leland Fitzgerald. We meet Leland in a correctional facility. He has murdered the mentally challenged brother of the girl he loves. Why? We don't know. We kind of get somewhat of an explanation, but it really doesn't add up. Don Cheadle plays a teacher in the facility who tries to grow to learn what makes Leland tick. Kevin Spacey co-stars as Leland's self-absorbed father, a role that really isn't needed very much, but Spacey does the most with it. And Chris Klein even pops up in a necessary role.

The film flows along at a snail's pace and Ryan Gosling has all the energy of a water rock. Sure, that's how the character is supposed to be, but I found myself dosing off at times. This film is an interesting cinematic experiment that just doesn't work. Chris Klein manages to show he does have some talent, and Don Cheadle is always affective in his roles, but not even fine performances could save this film from itself. That said, it is a good film. It meant well and it does achieve a bizarre sort of mood that carries throughout. I just wish more answers were given and I wish I didn't feel so damned wasted afterwards.

Edd #1: Edd - added 04/02/2007, 11:30 PM
This was an amazing film. Kevin Spacey, as always, delivers perfect on every line and emotion. 10/10.
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