Rated: R For some sex and violence. Reviewed by: Frank Release date: April 9, 1993 Released by: Warner Brothers
What's a woman do? That's the question Rosemary (Ellen Barkin) must answer as she attempts to build a life for her somewhat troubled adolescent son, Toby (Leonardo DiCaprio). Rosemary has little success with men, she is pretty, eternally hopeful but as many women in the 50s, not trained to take care of herself. There are few jobs she can do and the last bad boyfriend is following her as she travels from Florida to Washington State to escape.
From the book by Tobias Wolff, the focus of the story is Toby's life with his stepfather Dwight (Robert DeNiro). When Dwight first enters their lives he is polite and attentive to Rosemary. In her mind, a hoe and a strong father for Toby is the best she can get. Once under his roof, they both learn quickly Dwight is an ignorant tyrant who has such little self-esteem he insults his children and his new wife and holds them in his grip with his volatile temper.
Ellen Barkin displays Rosemary's frustration with a quiet performance filled with anger that is just below the surface but cannot be allowed out because she has no alternatives.
DeNiro is perfect again. Dwight never quite understands why he drives people away. He is a sad and lonely bully. It would be interesting to determine what his parents did to make him feel so worthless. DiCaprio is remarkable, ranging from a repentant child to a cocky adolescent with a ducktail haircut, confused as to what he is and who he wants to be.
This is a powerful drama that is depressing and uplifting at the same time.
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