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Cider House Rules (the)

"The Cider House Rules" is the story of an orphan adopted by his orphanage, and reared by the doctor in charge, who wants him as his successor. At one point he runs away to pick apples, and falls in love, but his fate, sealed at his birth, awaits him.

At the St. Cloud's orphanage in Maine, where you go to "add a child to your life, or leave one behind," Dr. Larch, (Caine) rules benevolently, and is beloved by his staff and orphans. At lights out, he salutes the children: "Good night, you princes of Maine, you kings of New England!" An old-fashioned progressive, Larch would be a secular saint if not for a few flaws, such as snuggling with nurses, and addicting himself to ether. He also provides abortions without question, because, in the 1930s and 1940s, he wants to save young women from coat-hook artists of the back alleys. He names one baby Homer Wells (Maguire), and essentially adopts him, teaching him everything he knows about medicine, and grooming him to take over the institution, but Homer is opposed to abortion, believing it justified only in cases of rape or incest. And, Homer also wants to choose his own life path.

Candy (Theron) arrives with her boyfriend Wally (Rudd), at the orphanage; she wants an abortion. Homer becomes their friend and follows them to Wally's family farm, where he meets Mr. Rose (Lindo), and joins his apple-picking crew that includes his daughter Rose Rose (Badu). Manual labor clears Homer's head, and fresh air delights him. He loves this world, and when Wally goes off to World War II, Homer and Candy fall in love. Eventually we learn that Rose is an incest victim, and Homer must decide whether to offer her an abortion.

"The Cider House Rules," adapted by John Irving from his novel, has had three directors before Lasse Hallstrom ("My Life as a Dog"), and is similar to a Victorian serial, such as David Copperfield (which Larch reads to the orphans), in which the ending won't be revealed before a contracted number of installments has been delivered. "The Cider House Rules" is often absorbing or enchanting; Caine's performance is one of his best, and Theron is sweet and direct. But the movie never resolves ambiguity toward Mr. Rose, who's guilty of incest, and yet is somehow not entirely a monster.
The story touches on many themes, lingers with a few, and moves on.
Director(s): Lasse Hallstrom
Writer(s): John Irving, based on his novel
Cast: Tobey Maguire, Charlize Theron, Delroy Lindo, Erykah Badu, Paul Rudd, and Michael Caine
Release Date: 1999   
Keyword: abortion, Maine, orphanage, World War II
Target Age: 17+   Category: other
Documentary: no
Language: English   Reviewer's Name: Micah
Review: http://MRQE
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