We Bought a Zoo
A widowed father played by Matt Damon moves to the South Californian country and purchases a zoo with his family
On Film4: 6 Sep 6:25PM
A rites of passage drama set in backcountry Washington state, featuring an early star turn from Leonardo DiCaprio. Also stars Robert DeNiro
Long before Leonardo DiCaprio achieved his pin-up status through films such as William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet and Titanic, he was making small and interesting movies like this, an excellent adaptation of Tobias Wolff's autobiographical novel in which he very nearly out-acts Robert DeNiro.
It's set in the 1950s, the Pacific Northwest of the USA. DiCaprio plays the author, a troubled teenager who mixes with the wrong crowd, while De Niro is Dwight, the alcoholic, abusive stepfather he longs to escape, and Barkin provides strong support as Caroline, his long-suffering mother who came west to escape earlier abusive boyfriends.
Comparable to Stand By Me in its vision of 1950s America, this avoids wholesome cliches and instead shows that difficulty and dysfuntion are universal.
Robert DeNiro and Ellen Barkin are reliable in this atmospheric drama, but it's the young Leonardo DiCaprio who really shines.
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