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Friday, August 22, 2014 
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Cinematronic by Michael Snyder
Film
cinematronic
  The United States Of Leland cinematronic
  director

Matthew Ryan Hoge

cast

Don Cheadle, Ryan Gosling, Chris Klein, Jena Malone, Kevin Spacey, Lena Olin, Michelle Williams, Martin Donovan, Ann Magnuson, Kerry Washington, Sherilyn Fenn

year

2003

rating rating cinematronic
  Continuing a long line of bright, troubled American kids in literature, film and TV, Leland Fitzgerald — a suburban teenager accused of a senseless murder and incarcerated in a youth detention center — is the shaky foundation of writer/director Matthew Ryan Hoge's ensemble drama "The United States of Leland." Hoge assembled an impressive array of actors, including Kevin Spacey, Don Cheadle, Lena Olin and Martin Donovan on the adult side. Jena Malone, Michelle Williams and Chris Klein represent the younger generation. But the greatest on-camera responsibility goes to Ryan Gosling as Leland. Gosling, so incendiary as the Jewish-kid-turned Nazi-skinhead in "The Believer," has to wrestle with a fuzzily defined character. Leland is too often one-dimensional or enigmatic, undercutting sympathy over his plight or horror at his actions. At times, the script slips and slides into melodrama or pretentiousness. Spacey, a boon to the film, dropped in to portray Leland's long-absent father, a celebrated author who abandoned his family. Olin is fine as Leland's mom. Cheadle, as a prison teacher with an agenda, is in a similar but less credible role than the counselor he played in the similarly themed "Manic." Tragedy in the suburbs had more resonance in the superior "American Beauty" and "The Safety of Objects."  
cinematronic
cinematronic


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