The United States of Leland - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The United States of Leland Reviews

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February 22, 2017
It's crazy how my perspective has changed watching the united states of leland as an adult, I first saw it when I was 16. It's totally from the eyes of an adolescent.
He has feelings and can't fully comprehend them because his whole world just exists around his family and school. Leland thinks that he can comprehend his feelings because he has traveled the world alone but really that just gave him a strong sense of independence.
The sadness he feels is so real and so deep because emotions are so heightened as an adolescent and adolescents have poor coping mechanisms when they come from broken homes. The sadness he sees in people is just projecting his own feelings onto them. Feelings about his own breakup and his parent's divorce.
He kills Ryan and treats it as a humane euthanasia because he projects his own life onto Ryan's and thinks that Ryan's life is sad because Ryan cannot do things that "normal" teenagers can. But what Leland lacks is empathy based off of life experience. He has no idea that Ryan didn't enjoy his life. Ryan had loving parents and enjoyed riding his bike and being outside. Leland simply projected how he would feel under those circumstances onto another person rather than taking the time to learn from other mentally disabled how their quality of life was.
The sign that Leland is starting to grow up is when he accepts that he cannot change what he did but that he is sorry. I think that if Leland's father had taken the time to travel with him and teach him about life rather than having Leland act as an adult so young, that Leland could have developed better views on society and life.

Leland is not a villain. He is just showing us how he views the world- similarly to how a lot of us have viewed the world after the loss of a loved one. It's easy to get absorbed in our own sadness but when we allow that to happen tragic events can ensue.?
February 9, 2017
Through Leland, I felt deep sorrow and desperation of a 16 years old boy.
Everything become wrong and lose brightness.
However this movie also insists that life is better than the sum of its parts, which is very positive message.
Although movie folk don't tell us decided answer, I felt that they believe positive aspect of life and I agree with that.
February 4, 2017
very interesting and moving
December 4, 2016
The movie had a great message, but this well written and fairly well acted film seems to simply have been misdirected.
½ June 20, 2016
Watched this on 20/6/16
This drama is intriguing, thought provoking and some pf the characters are highly established, especially Gosling's so that you feel a strong empathy for them. This film has some of the most sensible moments I have seen in recent times and packed with intelligent dialogues. It cay be confusing at times and some of the characters seem underdeveloped, but the main purpose of the film is to show how the lives of common people are affected when their close ones are caught up in a tragedy. Among the performances, Don Cheadle and Gosling stand out whereas Kevin Spacey, though in a minor role provides ample comic relief.
May 11, 2015
You have to believe life is more than the sum of its parts.

Leland Fitzgerald is a very smart and unique kid in high school that falls in love with a girl who loves two guys, Leland and another. Leland does some favors for the girl and ends up locked up in juvenile hall. He gets close to his teacher, who also happens to be an author, and tells him an amazing tale of life, what happened to him, and how he sees the world. The teacher thinks he's found someone to write his next book about.

"White boys aint about that gangster shit. Especially white boys like you."

Matthew Ryan Hoge, director of Self Storage, delivers The United States of Leland in his second major motion picture. The storyline for this is very well done and reminded me of a better Murder by Numbers. The script and situations are very well written and the acting was solid. The cast includes Ryan Gosling, Don Cheadle, Kevin Spacey, Kerry Washington, Martin Donovan, and Chris Klein.

"I feel all of their sadness."

I came across this on Netflix and had to add it to my queue since it starred Ryan Gosling (I'm a fan). He delivers this character well and his character reminded me of a better version of his character in Murder by Numbers. Overall, this is worth following for fans of thriller/crime drama, but I wouldn't add it to my DVD collection.

"Sometimes things just don't work out between people and it's nobody's fault."

Grade: B
August 4, 2014
(First and only viewing - 6/1/2013)
Super Reviewer
August 2, 2014
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.
May 12, 2014
A waste of several talented actors and an intriguing central plot. The film suffers due to movie-of-the-week writing and directing, as well as a lack of well placed focus.
April 14, 2014
Like a bad after school special, but this one had no point, and absolutely no answers.

Its a mess.

I think they tried to make an American Beauty off-shoot,
but it failed to resonate.
And had no clear message.
At all.

It couldnt decide if it was going to end as a message movie or just a sardonic statement about our self absorbed society producing a reluctant murderer - it missed on either attempt.

Slow, overstuffed in peripheral detail, and completely uneven, even false emotionally, it
follows the arthouse trend of hitting stilted and unnatural emotional notes.

Also, the hip soundtrack was
completely intrusive instead of complimentary.

And no one here cared about the innocent autistic boy who was stabbed to death. A travesty, since the movie spends its time trying to understand the killer instead.

Even Gosling seemed patchy at expressing the hints of deeper inner conflict that was masked by a friendly yet cool demeanor.

I shut it off early, then decided later to go back and finish watching.
Not worth it.

It still rang uneven and false.

Cheadle and Spacey have one good moment, but its bogged down in distracting subplots and needless detail.

By the end, you still havent connected w any character, and it leaves an empty, ambiguous message that is ultimately unsatisfying.


Im confused why so many users gave it such a high rating, except that the performances were consistent despite the trite script.

Or they just love Gosling or his wounded bird character.
He is good here, not great.
½ March 31, 2014
"This one is something a friend of mine said to me. "You have to believe that life is more than the sum of its parts, kiddo." I remember it right now to the "kiddo" part. But when I think about what she said, the same thing always comes into my head. What if you can't put the pieces together in the first place?"
Super Reviewer
March 16, 2014
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.
January 6, 2014
Really sad. A little enlightening. A hair eye opening. Wish they would have gone more in depth with the special kid. He was my favorite character, and he was only on-screen for approximately 3 minutes.
December 28, 2013
A decent film filled with great performances. Unfortunately the best reason to watch this film is for the performances. The film has a good concept but you see it unfold in the film you see the plot holes as well. Don Cheadel, Kevin Spacey & Jena Malone are great. The standout performances go to Ryan Gosling & Michelle Williams.
October 28, 2013
So I found this old movie looking for Ryan Gosling movies, it was intriguing, keeps you wondering. You gotta love the cast also. However I had diffuculty understanding why he did what he did. Kind of explained in the end but not exactly.
October 16, 2013
Bit Touch And Go. Very Clever But Was A Bit Heavy For The Viewer.
½ September 21, 2013
Anyone that gives this film a low rating simply doesn't understand it.
September 16, 2013
It a time where we need things to be answered for us the writer lets us make our own reasons for Leland. If just sit and watch it as entertainment like what movies are. You may just find yourself enjoying this film and many others. Not all are made to be "Oscar" winners or blockbusters, but just to make you think. Enjoy that when it comes. Lets just let movies entertain. Maybe they don't make the movie we want with our favorite hero, but at least we have that movie. I rather have Disney make poopie Star Wars movies rather than never seeing another version of Star Wars on the big screen. .
½ August 21, 2013
controversial subject matter. i like. very good, and very sad. jenna malone is great.
August 5, 2013
Another stupid movie!
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