The United States of Leland Reviews

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Super Reviewer
February 6, 2010
Crime. Confusion. Compassion. They're all just states of mind.

Great Film! In short, it is a well acted, well directed Śmovie. The story is not a feel good one, but I feel if you don't come away from the Śmovie feeling good, you may just have missed something. 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. To characterize it as "art house" is unfair, in my opinion, but as our society likes labels, this is probably the one that fits. If you find you know everything there is to know about the world... I'd suggest skipping this one. If you feel movies should be a form of escape "from the world"... you won't find it here. But if you do watch it... you just might find something in yourself.

After stabbing an autistic boy, the sixteen year old troubled and pessimist Leland P. Fitzgerald is sent to a juvenile detention. His teacher and aspirant writer Pearl Madison gets close and tries to understand him, first with intention of writing a book, and later becoming his friend. Leland slowly discloses his sad vision of world.
Super Reviewer
February 19, 2013
Ryan Gosling, and Don Cheadle, are fantastic in this interesting take about a teenager who commits a murder, but can't recall the crime. Gosling's character, with his gentle demeanor, make it hard to grasp why he would do such a thing. Young Ryan's range of talent really shines here. He has such a way about his display of cool emotions that I find mesmerizing. Really well done film...
Super Reviewer
July 8, 2009
"I think this is the film that really had me start paying more attention to Ryan Gosling, who is now a big favorite of mine. He plays such a complicated troubled soul in this film. His performance will make you take notice of him if you have yet to. I got very wrapped up in the story and these character's. It is an unconventional story that delivers an intense look inside a family full of tragedy. Leland Fitzgerald is quite insightful and the things he says are really thought provoking. It's just a really great film."

Leland: "I think there are two ways you can see the world. You either see the sadness that's behind everything or you choose to keep it all out."

Leland: "The worst part is knowing that there is goodness in people. Mostly it stays deep down and buried. Maybe we don't have God because we're scared of the bad stuff. Maybe we're really scared of the good stuff. Because if there's no God, well, that means it's inside of us and we could be good all the time if we wanted. So when we do bad things, it'd be because we want to or because we have to. Or maybe we just need the bad stuff to remind us what the good stuff is in the first place."
Super Reviewer
½ April 28, 2007
There is something about Ryan Gosling that attracts films of a Psychological nature. Whilst the topic of this film, could so easily have appeared an open and shut case, we delve into a much deeper psyche in an almost Devil's Advocate view of the events.

This one could open up to discussion and debate about the rights and wrongs etc etc, another good role for the talented young Actor.
Super Reviewer
½ November 9, 2006
Interesting movie. Sometimes hard to keep my attention on it, but it was alright.
Super Reviewer
½ July 26, 2008
At times its a compelling movie. The main problem I had with it is that it doesn't know how to end and it doesn't really provide an explanation as to why Leland did what he did. For some reason however, I was interested in most of the needless subplots, I don't know why. Gosling is terrific, with Cheadle and Spacey being equally solid.
Super Reviewer
½ November 14, 2006
The movie doesn't even realize how serious the situation is. It just exploits it to depict some cheap, unrealistic, pretentious notion of what the filmmakers think teen angst is.
Super Reviewer
March 19, 2008
Ryan Gosling stars in what many consider to be his breakout role, playing a modern day Holden Caufield, who has committed a heinous crime. While the story has some tremendous performances, it really lacks any substance, rehashing the events of the past week, over and over again. We know right from the beginning of the film, that Leland killed a retard boy, what we don't know is why. The focus of the film is discovering what lead this highly intelligent, son of a celebrity, to commit such an act. The film has a huge cast of celebrities, that include Don Cheadle, Kevin Spacey, Chris Klein, and Michelle Williams, all of whom are as good as you would expect. What the film has in talent, it lacks in substance, as it's really just a whole lot of Leland talking in code. The writers go out of their way to show Leland as this deep, emotionless kid, that's been trapped inside his own mind his entire life. As the film goes on, the more Leland opens up. The writers paint the portrait of this kid and show you ever aspect of his life, in the hopes that you will figure out his true motivation before it comes out. The result is a slow moving film that causes the audience to gradually lose interest as time goes on. There is no doubt the Ryan Gosling was spectacular and deserves every good thing said about his performance, but the story seems to move slowly and in circles. The writers made it much more in depth than it had to be and most audiences will be turned off by it.
Super Reviewer
½ June 2, 2006
Much better then I had anticipated, great cast and Ryan Gosling is brilliant as usual. The ending was a little drawn out though, and lost the necessary punch that it could have had. Still, good film overall.
Super Reviewer
July 26, 2009
I'm a huge Kevin Spacey fan and I like Don Cheadle. But this is Ryan Gosling's movie.
Super Reviewer
November 19, 2008
I felt the main character lacked likability and that made the movie less interesting.
Super Reviewer
April 28, 2008
How can you not love Ryan Gosling??
Super Reviewer
November 9, 2007
A good film.
Super Reviewer
½ June 4, 2006
Thoroughly moving and will possibly get you thinking about certain choices you've made in your life.
½ October 22, 2008
The story of Leland P. Fitzgerald (Ryan Gosling, playing a character 10 years younger than him) drew me in like a moth to a light. Gosling is imprisoned after murdering a retarded kid, the little brother of his drug-addicted ex-girlfriend (Jena Malone). Writer/director Matthew Ryan Hoge's indie drama about an emotionally mature, maybe even philosophical, teenage murderer finds ways to word emotions everybody feels, but everybody usually keeps inside. And word these emotions is, indirectly, what aspiring writer Don Cheadle, also Gosling's prison teacher, intends to do in his working-progress book about Gosling: the kid who killed a retarded kid. Through characters in Gosling's life like his neglectful writer father(Kevin Spacey) and his then-girlfriend, Malone, Cheadle attempts to peace together the motive behind Gosling's actions, even if Gosling himself doesn't know the why behind the brutal crime that ripped apart a family. Unknown actor Martin Donovan gives a scene-stealing performance as Malone's father, a man caught up in the middle of his unordinary family, wth a drug-addicted daughter, a retarded son, and his the honest, well-meaning boyfriend(Chris Klein) of his other daughter(Michelle Williams) living with his family. The murder of his son hits his family at a most inconvenient time, when Williams and Klein are struggling with their too-close relationship and Malone's dealer is released from prison soon before. Gosling captures his up-in-the-air socially awkward but friendly character with near perfection. Klein's cardboard performance lets down his fasinating, deep character. Hoge's screenplay, an emotion-based originality, is character-driven and based on perspective, and I like that. A-
½ December 9, 2009
A nice philosophical movie. Performances are also very good. But the pilot is so simple. The director tries to succeed with a different style of narration. But a meaningless effort. The topic is not as deep as the questions. But I would recommend you watch it If you are looking for a reason to your selections.
April 13, 2009
great cast but for some reason it doesn't keep my interest which sucks cause i really wanted to get into it.
January 5, 2009
This movie is wonderful. It should be a classic. There is not one bad thing I can say about this movie.
December 7, 2008
Wow, Ryan Gosling is such an AMAZING actor. He tackles every role! Leland - what a fascinating character! When the movie was over, I wanted more! Great cast, kickass music, amazing storyline, what more could you want from a movie? Highly recommended. GREAT film.
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