In 1940’s rural Maine, Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire) is a long-term resident of the St. Cloud Orphanage. Abandoned as a baby, Homer has spent all his known life here in the care of Dr. Wilbur Larch (by Michael Caine). His time at the orphanage is punctuated by two failed attempts at adoption. Larch is a caring father figure to Homer and as they have spent so much time together (whilst most other children have come and gone), Homer has picked up a form of medical education from Wilbur. These days, Homer actually helps Dr Larch care for the other abandoned children and also the newborn babies of unwed mothers who come into their care one way or another. Homer discovers that part of Dr Larch’s work involves a sideline in illegal abortions, but he refuses to assist with this. Unperturbed, Wilbur sees his duty is to provide the care these women need and keep them safe from “incompetent medico’s” who they’d otherwise ask to help them out. One day an Air Force pilot, Wally Worthington (by Paul Rudd), arrives at St. Cloud with his pregnant girlfriend Candy Kendall (by Charlize Theron) to get Dr Larch’s help. On the day they leave, Homer makes the break from the orphanage and sets off with them to “see the world”. During their travels Homer finds work picking apples and decides to stop moving. He settles into a more independent life and he and Candy get closer. In a new settlement, Homer meets Arthur Rose (by Delroy Lindo) and his team of seasonal workers along with Arthur’s daughter, Rose (by Erykah Badu) and he soon realises that the world is not always as it seems. At this place, Homer finds more people who can really use some of his help. He does what he can and finds he must weigh his principles and choices against the obvious and dire needs of the people around him. Perhaps Dr Larch has a point? Are the needs of people sometimes more important than the law? or even the moral high ground? Homer gets a lesson in life and discovers much about himself and what being a responsible adult is really all about.
This is a great movie. Michael Caine and Tobey Maguire are hugely complimentary in their roles and they both bring an authenticity to this wartime story. The scenery is beautiful and 1940’s America is portrayed in all its natural glory with an unmistakeable undercurrent of hardship, misplaced trust and self-survival. The cinematography and score are both well crafted and support the story very well. In 2000, Michael Caine won an Academy Award (Oscar) for his work as best supporting actor in this drama – and it is well deserved indeed. the movie is scripted by John Irving who wrote the novel by the same name in 1985. Again I say, it’s a great movie.
Made in 1999. Directed by Lasse Hallström