The United States of Leland

Critics Consensus

The United States of Leland has its moments, but they're undermined by a muddled plot, unsympathetic characters, and frustratingly uneven performances.



Total Count: 92


Audience Score

User Ratings: 30,368
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Movie Info

Produced by Kevin Spacey, The United States of Leland is a psychological drama concerning the aftereffects of a brutal murder. It's also the first big-studio theatrical release for writer/director Matthew Ryan Hoge, whose previous work consists of the independent comedy Self Storage. Ryan Gosling plays Leland, an imprisoned teenager doing time for the stabbing murder of a disabled boy. Prison writing teacher Pearl Madison (Don Cheadle) gets caught up in the story with the intention of making a book out of it, especially when he finds out that Leland's father is the famous novelist Albert Fitzgerald (Spacey). Pearl's investigation uncovers some of the details and effects of the murder for everyone involved, including the victim's parents, Harry (Martin Donovan) and Karen Pollard (Ann Magnuson). Jena Malone plays Becky, the teenage junkie who is both Leland's ex-girlfriend and the victim's sister. The situation also complicates the relationship between Becky's older sister, Jennifer (Michelle Williams), and her sensitive boyfriend, Allen (Chris Klein). The United States of Leland premiered at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi

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Don Cheadle
as Pearl Madison
Ryan Gosling
as Leland P. Fitzgerald
Chris Klein
as Allen Harris
Jena Malone
as Becky Pollard
Lena Olin
as Marybeth Fitzgerald
Kevin Spacey
as Albert T. Fitzgerald
Michelle Williams
as Julie Pollard
Martin Donovan
as Harry Pollard
Ann Magnuson
as Karen Pollard
Sherilyn Fenn
as Mrs. Calderon
Matt Molloy
as Charlie
Michael Peña
as Guillermo
Michael Welch
as Ryan Pollard
Yolonda Ross
as Miranda
Leyna Nguyen
as T.T. Reporter
Randall Bosley
as Sheriff Donaldson
Joy Wood
as Cop No.1
Robert Peters
as Security Guard
Tony McEwing
as News Anchor
Lawrence Lowe
as Detention Specialist
Charles Hess
as Main Entrance Guard
Angela Paton
as Airplane Woman
Ryan Malgarini
as Six-year-old Leland
Maria Arce
as Bethany
Dell Yount
as Court Officer
Melanie Lora
as Hotel Waitress
Rene Rivera
as Mechanic
Alec Medlock
as Twelve-year-old Leland
Jim Metzler
as Cemetery Reporter
Michael McCleery
as Mechanic No.2
David Barrera
as First Officer
Sheeri Rappaport
as Second Officer
Evan Helmuth
as Grocery Guy
Ty Hodges
as Student
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Critic Reviews for The United States of Leland

All Critics (92) | Top Critics (29)

Audience Reviews for The United States of Leland

  • Feb 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...
    Cynthia S Super Reviewer
  • Jul 07, 2010
    Leland is a straightforward drama, putting all the cards on the table and allowing you to see the aftermath of unexplainable death in its truest form.
    Christopher H Super Reviewer
  • Apr 25, 2010
    Not as good as I was expecting.So disappointing
    Brody M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 13, 2010
    A young man named Leland sees the world in a whole different perspective then the those around him. We watch and learn from his time in a juvenile detention center as a teacher questions him about Why he did what he did to end up there in the first place. Ryan Gosling is an actor who I really admire and adore, because I think he's brilliant. He is joined by talents such as Kevin Spacey, Lena Olin and Din Cheadle. A very introuging cast for an equally introuging story. It is abit strange, very sad and it makes you think. It's jumps from person to person and I found it hard to understand what the different "mini-stories" had to do with anything at some times, but of course it all rounds up in the end. I liked it. At times the story didn't really manage to keep my attention but it was good most of the time. It's a very sad story, the character Leland is a very complicated one and I think Gosling plays him very well. I found it hard to grasp the actual concept of the film, maybe watching it a second time might help? You have to be utterly concntrated on the film to really grasp everything and I sadly was not while I watched it so a re-watch is definitley something that's needed. Good interesting film with a good cast.
    Charlotta L Super Reviewer

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