Marvin's Room

1996

Marvin's Room

Critics Consensus

Marvin's Room rises above the pack of dysfunctional family dramas thanks to an impeccable cast that includes Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton, and Leonardo DiCaprio.

84%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 50

63%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 21,673
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Movie Info

Featuring an all-star cast, this drama is about two estranged sisters. Bessie has spent 20 years caring for her bed-ridden father. Lee is far more independent, raising her two boys alone. When a doctor diagnoses Bessie with leukemia, Lee is called upon for a bone-marrow transplant.

Cast

Robert De Niro
as Dr. Wally
Hal Scardino
as Charlie
Margo Martindale
as Dr. Charlotte
Kelly Ripa
as Amber/Coral
Cynthia Nixon
as Retirement Home Director
Chad Dowdell
as Delivery Guy (uncredited)
Olga Merediz
as Beauty Shop Lady
Joe Lisi
as Bruno
Steve DuMouchel
as Gas Station Guy
Victor Garber
as Minister
Helen Stenborg
as Nun on Phone
Sally Parrish
as Nun No. 3
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News & Interviews for Marvin's Room

Critic Reviews for Marvin's Room

All Critics (50) | Top Critics (16) | Fresh (42) | Rotten (8)

  • Zaks knows enough not to get in the way of his three superb stars, who put on a display of emotional fireworks that is lovely to behold.

    Mar 1, 2018 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Newsweek
    Top Critic
  • The performances are overwhelmed by cinematography so gorgeous and distracting it makes the drama seem like just so much wheel spinning.

    Feb 8, 2010 | Full Review…
  • It's all plinky-plink pianos and mewing oboes, trying to jerk those tears a little too hard. No, a lot too hard. The music is awful. Stupendously bad.

    Feb 8, 2010 | Full Review…
  • Based on a play by Scott McPherson's who died of AIDS, it's impossible to watch the well-acted film (particularly Diane Keaton, who should get an Oscar nod) without thinking of its themees: the various approaches to love and the strength of family bonds

    Dec 26, 2006 | Rating: B-

    Emanuel Levy

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Streep gives her most credible blue-collar performance to date; Keaton sidesteps saintliness to mix vulnerability and small heroics.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Wally Hammond

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Powerhouse casting and a heartbreaking history make the screen version of Marvin's Room more memorable than it otherwise would be.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 3/5

Audience Reviews for Marvin's Room

  • Jan 17, 2012
    Favourite of the community theatre set, the film is well cast but fails in the sappiness metre. I think that Steep, Keaton and DiCaprio could do this in their sleep.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 23, 2011
    "Marvin's Room" is slow and unengaging, but has a good story and solid acting, notably from DiCaprio (I know, who would have guessed?) to make it a decent watch.
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Sep 06, 2010
    This is another movie I had to watch for a class, and now I barely remember it. All I remember is everyone loving Leo, and thinking to myself how boring the movie was.
    Aj V Super Reviewer
  • Feb 03, 2010
    Sometimes the people you know the least...are the ones you need the most! Good movie! 'Marvin's Room' doesn't try to give simple answers; after all, all families have dysfunctions, but instead is like a canvas that reveals itself for the many layers of dynamics between its players and does so in an uplifting manner, much like the beautiful moment when Bessie and Lee witness Marvin's delight in seeing a display of light coming from a mirror Bessie is holding. It's a quiet moment, one of intense love, that shows the power of family despite the odds, and what better way to end the film with Gwen Verdon's last line? Hope is all around. Great acting performances, go see it! Estranged since their father's first stroke some 17 years earlier, Lee and Bessie lead separate lives in separate states. Lee's son, Hank, finds himself committed to a mental institution after setting fire to his mother's house. His younger brother, Charlie, seems unfazed by his brother's eccentricities or his mother's seeming disinterest. When Lee comes to the asylum to spring Hank for a week in Florida so that he can be tested as a possible bone marrow donor for Bessie, Hank is incredulous. "I didn't even know you had a sister," he says. "Remember, every Christmas, when I used to say 'Well, looks like Aunt Bessie didn't send us a card again this year?'" "Oh yeah," Hank says. Meanwhile, Marvin, the two women's bedridden father, has "been dying for the past twenty years." "He's doing it real slow so I don't miss anything," Bessie tells Dr. Wally. In Bessie's regular doctor's absence, it has fallen to Dr. Wally to inform Bessie that she has leukemia and will die without a bone marrow transplant. This precipitates the two sisters uneasy reunion. In Marvin's room, Bessie cares for her father's every need. In Lee's eyes, the sacrifice Bessie has made is too great and realizing the old man's welfare will fall to her if Bessie dies, Lee's first instinct is to look for a nursing home. "In a few month's, I'll have my cosmotology degree," she says. "My life is just coming together; I'm not going to give it all up, now!" As first Lee is tested and then the boys for the compatibility of their marrow with Bessie's, the women take stock of their lives and rediscover the meaning of "family."
    Manu G Super Reviewer

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