Marvin's Room (1996)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Family Drama, Medical Drama  |   Release Date - Dec 20, 1996 (USA)  |   Run Time - 98 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Based on a highly successful off-Broadway play by Scott McPherson, this respectable film adaptation overcomes its familiar, TV-movie terrain to eventually become a heartfelt tribute to family ties and the prospect of death. In a wonderfully reversed casting scenario, Meryl Streep plays the cigarette-smoking, brash sibling of Diane Keaton, who is beautifully restrained as the older, quieter caretaker figure. Actually, the film is superbly cast all around, with Leonardo DiCaprio quite affecting in a supporting role, and Hume Cronyn providing a strong portrait of old age and mortality without having a word of dialogue in the entire picture. The film at times struggles to break out of its stagebound nature, but the high-caliber performances and sensitive direction by Broadway veteran Jerry Zaks lift it up considerably. Despite Streep's much-showier role, the Academy rightfully nominated co-star Keaton, for what might be her finest work to date.