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The United States of Leland (2003)

R | | Drama | 25 March 2005 (Italy)
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A young man's experience in a juvenile detention center that touches on the tumultuous changes that befall his family and the community in which he lives.

Director:

Matthew Ryan Hoge
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Don Cheadle ... Pearl Madison
Ryan Gosling ... Leland P. Fitzgerald
Chris Klein ... Allen Harris
Jena Malone ... Becky Pollard
Lena Olin ... Marybeth Fitzgerald
Kevin Spacey ... Albert T. Fitzgerald
Michelle Williams ... Julie Pollard
Martin Donovan ... Harry Pollard
Ann Magnuson ... Karen Pollard
Kerry Washington ... Ayesha
Sherilyn Fenn ... Mrs. Calderon
Matt Malloy ... Charlie
Wesley Jonathan ... Bengel
Michael Peña ... Guillermo
Michael Welch ... Ryan Pollard
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Storyline

As a detached kid spends time in juvenile hall for the unspeakable murder of a special needs kid, a writer and the people around him try to comprehend and cope with his reasoning for commiting this murder from the writings in a classroom book from his juvenile class, where he tries to let people know "the why". Written by gavin Johns

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

boy | book | writer | teacher | author | See All (167) »

Taglines:

Crime. Confusion. Compassion. They're all just states of mind.

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some drug content | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 March 2005 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

20 Messerstiche See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$48,384, 4 April 2004, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$343,816, 11 July 2004
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Ontario)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The is the first time Ryan Gosling and Michael Peña have worked together. They reunited ten years later on the film Gangster Squad (2013). See more »

Goofs

When Leland is watching the basketball game with the other inmate, the sun is shining through the window, however, the shadows outside are cast in wrong direction. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Leland: When I say I don't remember that day, I'm not lying. Wish I did, but I just don't. Sometimes the most important stuff goes away. Goes away so bad, it's like it was never there to begin with. It's funny the stuff that sticks in your head. I could tell you forward and backward about one day when I was five, and my dad bought me a stupid ice cream cone. I could tell you the flavor of the ice cream. It was pick bubblegum. Even stuff about the girl who scooped it out. Her hair was fire ...
See more »

Connections

Featured in Anatomy of a Scene: The United States of Leland (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

In My Old World
Written and Performed by Tobin Sprout
Published by I'm a Cowboy Songs (BMI)
Courtesy of Wigwam Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The critics failed to grasp the meaning of this one
2 January 2007 | by Tecun_UmanSee all my reviews

I was looking at the external reviews (Ebert, etc.) for this film and they were all pretty much negative. However, after reading many of them, I noticed that they all made the same point. Critics were upset that the film centers around what appears to be a senseless murder of an autistic child. Certainly, this is a disturbing image. Critics like Ebert want a traditional detective story that uncovers why the killing happened and squarely places blame on the guilty. They want blame to be cast and resolved. Well, that status-quo theme is kind of what the movie is parodying. Just like society, the critics wanted a very quick resolution so they could move on to their next tragic opera. Perhaps there is no simple question to be answered here? There is a whole lot more to what happened then what is on the surface. The film does not seek to rationalize what happens, but rather understand the why. What also steams me so much about these inane reviews is that all they look at in the way of performances is Spacey and Cheadle, who were both great (and generally are). But there are other great performances at work here other than just the two current icons of Hollywood. Gosling gives an incredible performance that really only somebody of his extreme talent could deliver. Somehow, Gosling is able to make the killer of an autistic child sympathetic. This irritates many, I am sure. However, if one watches the film, they see what Leeland's motivation is, it is wrong, but it is not evil. Malone is also on top of her game as yet another confused young character. Basically, the killing of the child in this film is not the main theme of the movie. The main theme is life itself and how people go about dealing with it, the highs and lows, and how they attempt to sometimes help others deal with their lives (which does not seem to work out very well). There is a lot of good and bad in this world and how we handle each has direct impact on how much more good and bad will take place, and sometimes a confused attempt at doing good, can lead to a whole bunch more of bad. I think this is one of the more memorable films in sometime and has an ending that is as touching as anything in recent movie history. I strongly believe people should view this film, with an open mind.


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