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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon January 23, 2009
Kindly Bessie (Diane Keaton) has devoted her life to caring for her ailing father with no help from her estranged sister, Lee (Meryl Streep), the black sheep of the family. But now, Bessie is gravely ill and needs Lee's help.

I usually don't care for Diane Keaton's acting, but I did like her in this role. She plays an utterly selfless woman who could easily have been cloying, but was instead, quite sympathetic and noble. Streep does her usual expert job, playing a woman who won't win any Mother of the Year awards. And DiCaprio, looking very young a year before Titanic, steals all his scenes as a dangerous teen who hates his mother so much he burns down the house.

This is a poignant look at illness and dying through the eyes of three very different characters. I was sorry it ended so abruptly without resolving the story, but that makes it feel even more real. This is a movie I'll want to watch again when I'm feeling blue; it will help me keep things in perspective and remind me what's really important.
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Taken from a play by Scott McPherson, "Marvin's Room" at first seems like it might be a dreary tear jerker of a drama. But wait, there is a dream cast involved and somewhat maudlin scenarios turn out to be sheer delights. Imagine a film with Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton, Robert DeNiro, Leonard DiCaprio and Hugh Cronyn and you cannot go wrong. Keaton is taking care of her long failing father (Cronyn) when she discovers she has leukemia. She contacts her long estranged 'beauty school graduate' sister (Streep) and pyromaniac nephew (DiCaprio) as possible donors. When the families unite in Florida, it's a flurry of funny, hard-nosed and real life dialogue. All cast members are at their best and Streep and Keaton juxtaposed as sisters is amazing. DeNiro plays Keaton's scatter-brained doctor and he is priceless. There's strong warmth and reality in this film and despite the occasional tear, the ultimate feeling is happiness. This movie is a keeper.
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on June 20, 2017
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on November 12, 2000
Of course, the LEO lovers are going to hate this . . . but, not even his pretty face and character-style acting could harm this movie. I think only a handful of guys have reviewed this film, which means a majority of the reviewers are affected primarily by Leo DiCaprio's good looks. I have seen a few of his movies, and they all portray rebels; this is probably because that is what he is (essentially he plays himself). Nevertheless, Dicaprio excels at that persona. The audience becoming emotionally carried away with a leading actor is what studios gamble on, and some gamble that the movie itself is a work of art. So, what makes MARVIN'S ROOM delightful is its simplicity in defining love. This movie is made up of the most ordinary things: family dysfunction, disease, bitterness, frustration, disappointment, fear, the family next door. Keaton's realization/declaration of her life's blessing is superb cinema, because this is what I feel creates the most fulfilling life experience: not being loved but loving. And boy does she love those around her with the strongest commitment. The apt title MARVIN'S ROOM is eloquent in that it defines Keaton's dedication by her tireless display of refracted light all over the walls for Marvin's profound amusement, which is reward enough to Keaton. She effectively turned what would be a prison to the average person into a family room. Also, I believe her greatest fear of death lies in worrying "What will happen to Marvin?" Thankfully, Streep is drawn, at first against her will, into the peace, love and fulfillment of Marvin's Room from her whirlpool of ambition (it's Keaton's incredible effect/change on DiCaprio's character that is the catalyst). Streep is just getting her degree and hopes for big time freelance work! But, she actually allows both ambition and fear to take second place as she falls into a role of responsibility. Carly Simon's end-title song "Two Little Sisters" is the cinematographic element that pulls everything together into an excellent film. All that may sound mushy, but the song is like a poem and, thus, becomes part of the dialogue. I think this song combined with the last scenes provoke wistfullness. One sister dreamed of going to the other side of town; the other to the stars. However, in the cold night when lights go dim and dreams seem old, each would come home to the other. This summarizes all that is good about this movie. Now, LEO lovers, it is possible for a movie with him in it to be good based on filmmaking and not pretty hair.
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on January 28, 2002
This movie is based on Scott McPherson's off - Broadway play. It has been turned into a wonderful little movie. A movie that is sort of one of those lost gems. Meryl Streep heads an impeccable all star cast as a woman who comes back in contact with her long estranged sister, played by Diane Keaton. Keaton's character has been taking care of her and Streep's very old and very ill father(played so realistically by Hume Cronyn). Keaton's character then finds out that she has leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant. The only donors that can help are Meryl and her wayward kids(headed by the solid Leonardo DiCaprio). Meryl and the kids head down to Florida where Keaton is and, well, they bring along some of their own little dysfunction. The movie is sad, but not in the ball your eyes out way. It avoids the usual scenes of death beds and a huge dying scene. None of that is here. The movie is about the family, and the two estranged sisters coming together. Not to mention Meryl's character coming to terms with her son Hank(Leo). The film definitley hits some emotional highs, but it's not, as I've said above, the usual way we've seen it a hundred times before. Robert De Niro appears in a fairly small role as Keaton's character. He also co-produced the film. Our main stars here all shine brightly. Keaton is great, as always. Meryl and Leo makes their characters believeable, if not very sympathetic. In the end, it's Keaton who shines the brightest. Marvin's Room is a nice family drama that was horribly overlooked and forgotten by most people. Give it a chance.
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on May 30, 2013
I saw this back in the day when everyone, myself included, had a crush on Leonardo DiCaprio after Titanic, to my surprise, this movie turned out to be fantastic!

The DVDs: Good condition, works well, no issues. When I bought this the BluRay edition did not exist, for quality purposes, I'd recommend going that route, especially since it's a very fair price.

Overall: I'm so glad I bought this DVD, I couldn't beat the price either ($5). There's no denying this film has a great cast, Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton, Robert DeNiro, Leonardo DiCaprio, honestly, all of the actors in this film, even the more minor characters, all do an absolutely fabulous job. In my opinion, this film is seriously underrated for what it is, I've seen it many times & will continue to watch it for years to come, love it.
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on June 10, 2000
Initially performed off Broadway in 1991, "Marvin's Room" was written by a man by the name of Scott McPherson. At the time, he, his lover, and a number of their friends were suffering from the effects of AIDS. "We all take care of each other," McPherson wrote in the play's program, "the less sick caring for the most sick. But at times, an unbelievably harsh fate can be transcended by a simple act of love." "Marvin's Room," is about just this. By no means is it a story about cancer or terminal illness. Instead, it leaves all television "disease of the week" cliches at the door, and stands as a gut wrenching testament to the healing power of love. Eloquently brought to screen in this handsome production, "Marvin's Room" loses none of its beauty in its transition to film. The performances are excellent across the board with Meryl Streep, and Diane Keaton shining in their roles, and Gwen Verdon and Leonardo DiCaprio giving equally fine work. Veteran stage director Jerry Zaks does an excellent job with his material as the picture is filled with several moving images and moments. It is hard to forget the scene in which Lee is pictured cutting her older sister's wig, or when Hank is finally shown reaching out toward his aunt. But of all the film's many well executed moments, nothing can match the story's touching and emotional ending for its shear impact and genuine humanity. Watching this film is pure cinematic joy. There are moments of pure hilarity, and scenes so moving that the viewer's heart almost stops. There is no bathos, or sentiment in this movie. Just simple and honest feeling and emotion.
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on February 1, 2002
Occasionally, I like to create my own at home "double features." My most recent was "Streep Weep Night" with MARVIN'S ROOM and ONE TRUE THING on the bill. It was heavy going at times, but I survived. Conclusions: Meryl is a fine fine actress; and she desperately needs to do something totally crazy and out of character soon. Meryl, sweetie, have your agent call the Coens--or the even Farellys for that matter.
Actually, MARVIN'S ROOM IS a little bit on the quirky, black humored side. But ultimately, it's still a melodrama about two estranged sisters (Streep's Lee and Diane Keaton's Bessie) who reunite in a time of crisis. That's a plot outline we've all seen a couple of hundred times before. Where MARVIN differs a bit is in the wacky humor and the slightly off-kilter perspective it brings to the classic dysfunctional family drama. Ultimately, that's the film's saving grace. As others have noted, it may not be "wildly funny" but it does have enough humor to leaven the dramatic bread.
And it has Diane Keaton who is a past master at mixing the sublime and the ridiculous. I understand that the ever generous Meryl Streep actively promoted Keaton's Best Actress Oscar nomination in '96, saying that she felt that it was Keaton who carried the movie. Actually, they're both wonderful. And Gwen Verdon, Robert DeNiro and, yes, Leo himself are all in fine form here. Only poor Hume Cronyn doesn't have much to do in the title role (I mean Marvin--not the room).
It's not a great movie, but it is an feast acting-wise, and for that I'm grateful. But it's just quirky enough to make one wonder why Streep doesn't do something really offbeat for a change. (Were SHE-DEVIL and DEATH BECOMES HER such negative experiences?) She should at least consider working with Woody again.
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on January 17, 2001
Most of the reviews of 'Marvin's Room' I've read online all mention Leonardo DiCaprio and how cute he is, how much he is loved, and how he acted wonderfully in the movie. I can't say I don't agree- he adds flavor to the movie and pulls off a very convincing act of a troubled boy. But the floor belong to Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep. I can't think of better actresses for this movie than these two- they're beautiful together. The movie is handled in a dramatic light; from the beach scene to the darkened scene where Bessie tells the story of her dead boyfriend. I don't think there's a better movie of family dysfunction.Most movies on family dysfunction end badly and disappoint me greatly. But this movie is a positive one, and ends in one of the best scenes I've ever seen. Here you have two sisters who haven't seen each other in like twenty years, and suddenly they reunite because Bessie needs a bone marrow transplant; otherwise she'll die. From that, they embrace each other hesitantly but surely; they realize of their love for eachother. They all depend on each other and grow from each other. Lee is someone with lost hope; and Bessie is the one who restores it.You can almost see Bessie's rare spirit reaching out and touching everyone around her. My favorite scene is when Lee convinces Bessie to take off her wig so she can cut it. Of course, anyone's got to feel embarassed if their wigs have to come off in front of anyone; let alone someone you haven't seen for 20 years. But Bessie takes it off with courage and hope; you can totally see it. Keaton was completely magical in this one; she has rare talent. Bessie was the only one emitting hope and triumph in the face of death; and everyone around her began to feel it also. This person is someone I could never be. I admire this character. The final scene... whoo! The rays of light bouncing off the walls seem to be a representation of heaven and love. They all knew Bessie was going to die. This scene is handled with such finality. I would have much preferred the movie end this way than seeing Bessie die. This family is dysfunctional, but this family also experienced love and courage. To be completely honest, I was stunned into dead silence for the first ten minutes after the movie ended. Then I rewound the movie and started watching it again. I couldn't get enough of this exquisite movie. It's much more than a movie- it's pure reality and imagination combined. This movie is proof that people like Bessie exist. Keaton definitely deserves the Academy Award nomination. Hell, she should have won it! I love her. I love this movie! Go see it immediately!You won't regret it--trust me.
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on March 31, 2004
Close to a perfect movie as you can get. Instead of the usual over-the-top heavy-sentiment scenes in a dysfunctional family, Marvin's Room finds a clever, non-contrived way to end by leaving its characters at a magical moment of mutual understanding. It is one of the most powerful endings I've ever seen in a film.
Greatly acted by almost everyone (including a very young Leonardo Di Caprio), great score, excellent screenplay, a tinge of wry humor through it all, and gutwrenching emotion.
I picked up the DVD for Streep, and found her character a little one-dimensional. But when I really think of it, the most remarkable thing about the film is how it reveals how similar the two sisters are, despite their non-trivial character differences. Both abandon one part of their family to sacrifice for another part -- they each merely take different parts, and that's why Lee's character is not as bad, selfish or one-dimensional as she first seems. Lee's problem was understanding love. Despite all her lovers, Lee (Streep) had to learn the real meaning of love from her spinster sister Bessie (Keaton).
Worth buying, as anyone with a heartbeat will watch this gem more than once. Highly recommended.
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