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Marvin's Room Internet Movie Database Logo

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The best advice I can give about this movie is this: if you loved the play, stay away. Fortunately, I never saw the play, so I rather dug this bittersweet tale of a woman (Diane Keaton) who needs a bone marrow transplant, and is forced to re-establish a connection with her estranged sister (Meryl Streep) and her children (Leonard DiCaprio and Hal Scardino) to see if their marrow matches hers. Adding to the tension is the fact that Diane Keaton's character sacrificed the latter half of her adulthood to take care of their father, who is bed-ridden after a series of strokes. Sickness and the sensing of things ending hangs thick over this story, which makes the humor of Keaton's doctor (played by a remarkably sane Robert DeNiro) all the more relieving.

The movie itself seems to be less about the struggle of the two sisters accepting each other—or even Leonard DiCaprio ironing out his white-hot emotions—but about two actresses fighting director Jerry Zaks for emotional control of the film. He wants the schmaltz, but Keaton and Streep are too smart for him. The end result is a vaguely satisfying mishmash of both, but one gets the feeling that things could have been handled better. Still, a lot of great lines and some good performances keep this movie consistently compelling.

—Ian Williams

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© Copyright 2002 Ian Williams