The movie “What’s eating Gilbert grape” is an excellent depiction of life’s true hardships faced by a young man, but at the same time also portrays the courage and dedication needed to move on in life.  This movie was released in 1993 and is based on the Novel which was published under the same name. It stars Johnny Depp, Leonardo DeCaprio and Juliette  Lewis. It was nominated for Oscars in 1994 and has won awards and nominations at many prestigious events. Gilbert grape, the eldest child of the family, takes care of his younger brother Arnie, and his mother Bonnie.  Gilbert grape’s brother Arnie is mentally handicapped and requires constant attention and care at all times while her mother is chronically obese and has not left the house since the death of her husband.  Gilbert also takes the responsibility for his younger adolescent sister.  His other sister is very hard working and also tries to support the family.  He also tries to fix their old ancestral house so that it can bear the weight of his mother.

Gilbert tries his best to support his dysfunctional family by working at a small grocery store which has seen dwindling business because of the opening of a bigger grocery giant across the city.  But his life takes a turn when Becky comes into Gilbert’s life and he starts to realize a new meaning of life.  At the same time Gilbert is also having a relationship with another woman who is not happy from her married life.  This puts Gilbert in a dilemma on several occasions in the movie.  Gilbert tries to hide the sorry state of his mother from others.  This becomes evident from his decision of setting their ancestral house on fire, when his mother dies in the house.

Physical and Psychological impact

Arnie has developmental disability and needs constant care and supervision at all times.  Although he is in his late adolescence but still his acts are that of a young child. He has experienced physical co morbidity due to his psychological condition.  His psychological condition has often made him prone to physical injury and has isolated him from his age group peers.  This has caused lack of adaptive behavior in Arnie and hindered him from doing anything constructive.

His psychological condition has also caused frequent strain on his family, especially his elder brother, Gilbert. Atypical child characteristics such as a son or daughter with mental retardation, affect the normative sequence of family developmental tasks as a family transitions from one stage to the next. Grapes’ family faces a similar dilemma where Arnie has a very bleak future due to his mental condition.  Gilbert faces the physical and psychological impact of his commitment for care to Arnie and also to the family as the sole breadwinner.  Arnie’s condition causes psychological stress on his mother as well, who is always worried and anxious about his well being.