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The United States of Leland

4.0 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The United States of Leland isn't a whodunit. The opening scenes of Matthew Ryan Hoge's unusual murder mystery make it clear that Leland P. Fitzgerald ("The Believer"'s Ryan Gosling) is the killer. But why did he kill? Now that the deed is done, Leland is staying in a detention center. Everybody, but especially new teacher Pearl Madison (Don Cheadle), wants to know why he killed the mentally challenged brother of girlfriend Becky (Jena Malone). After all, Leland seemed to genuinely like the kid. Leland is just as confused (and can't remember committing the act), but he reveals more and more clues as he gradually opens up to Pearl. His estranged novelist father Albert (Kevin Spacey), meanwhile, just wants to spin another bestseller out of his son's story. Writer-director Hoge doesn't provide any easy answers in this compelling, complicated look at teenage depression. Featuring music by the Fire Theft's Jeremy Enigk. "--Kathleen C. Fennessy"

Amazon.com

The United States of Leland isn't a whodunit. The opening scenes of Matthew Ryan Hoge's unusual murder mystery make it clear that Leland P. Fitzgerald (The Believer's Ryan Gosling) is the killer. But why did he kill? Now that the deed is done, Leland is staying in a detention center. Everybody, but especially new teacher Pearl Madison (Don Cheadle), wants to know why he killed the mentally challenged brother of girlfriend Becky (Jena Malone). After all, Leland seemed to genuinely like the kid. Leland is just as confused (and can't remember committing the act), but he reveals more and more clues as he gradually opens up to Pearl. His estranged novelist father Albert (Kevin Spacey), meanwhile, just wants to spin another bestseller out of his son's story. Writer-director Hoge doesn't provide any easy answers in this compelling, complicated look at teenage depression. Featuring music by the Fire Theft's Jeremy Enigk. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ryan Gosling, Don Cheadle, Kevin Spacey, Chris Klein, Jena Malone
  • Directors: Matthew Ryan Hoge
  • Writers: Matthew Ryan Hoge
  • Producers: Kevin Spacey, Bernie Morris, Dara Weintraub, Jonah Smith, Mark Damon
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, Surround Sound, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: September 7, 2004
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002I8372
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,270 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The United States of Leland" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
The premise is rather simple. A teenager, awkward, introvert and burdened with a sensibility that sears his heart to numbness, commits an inexplicable murder. An atrocious one at that. The victim is his girlfriend's brother, Bryan, who is an 11 year old severely autistic nonentity. The main role of Leland Fitzgerald is interpreted by Ryan Gosling with such compelling anguish that it magnifies the complexity of a fragile spirit to such a degree we cannot psychologize the troubled youth because we are disoriented as we observe the indomitable suffering Leland attempts to silence. Likewise we are given a stark visual of the two sets of parents, the questions that harrow them and the way the tragedy unravels what seemed to be a world pulling at the seams of every thread.
The emotionally detached Leland retraces his steps thanks to the invasive insistance of his juvenile hall educator Pearl Madison, admirably played by Don Cheadle, who is undergoing moral dilemmas of his own. Pearl's feigned confidence is contrasted with confounding and disarming depth to Leland's innocent aloofness. The emotional texture of the movie is further enriched by strands of a narrative that follows Bryan's other sister who is unsettled and dejected, an 18 year old who is not allowed to search and delve within her own turbulance. She breaks up with her boyfriend, he too a timid soul reaching for a stability that teeters on the brink of injected scrupolousness.
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By brennan on December 28, 2004
Format: DVD
this movie was flat out amazing. i have recently been on a hunt for better movies than the common droll that gets so much attention in theatres and so on. some of them are just forgotten big films that i never got around to seeing, and some indie films such as this one. I've come across a few actors who are consistently picking good movies, such as Johnny Depp, Jena Malone(who is in this movie) and a few others

My friend introduced me to this movie, and once i saw that Jena Malone and also the very talented Ryan Gosling were in it, i immediately agreed to watch it. i was blown away the whole movie. the script, though at times overdramatic, revealed things and feelings that i have experienced, which is something a good movie should be able to do. Maybe it was the caliber of the acting all around. Maybe it was the dialogue. Or maybe it was the introspective and truthful quality of the narration by Gosling's misguided yet wise character.

Any of those reasons could be the reason i loved it so much, but either way it is a movie very much close to my heart. Some on here like to say that it is boring and drawn out or that they dont understand what you are supposed to get out of it. All i can say to these people is that they obviously have never felt that sadness from other people and suffered from it as Gosling does. All i can say is that they obviously do not know true cinema when they see it.
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What is right? What is wrong? It isn't easy to draw the line. That's the theme of this film written and directed by a new, untested writer/director Mathew Hoge. Ryan Gosling stars as Leland, a troubled teenager who has murdered a retarded boy. It's a horrific crime and it impacts his small community. Nobody understands why he did it and he doesn't deny the charges. While awaiting trial he's sent to Juvenile Hall. There, in a classroom, he starts a notebook entitled "The United States of Leland' in which he writes about his life. His teacher, Don Cheadle, is an aspiring writer. He befriends the troubled youth but, as we get to know his character, we soon see that he is struggling with his own values. There's a lot of serious conversation between the two with many close-ups on Gosling who seems wise beyond his years.

The setting is the Juvenile Hall but that is downplayed in the film. There's only a small amount of focus on any other person other than Gosling. In flashbacks we learn about his attraction to the sister of the retarded youth he murdered, played by Jena Malone. And there's a whole story within a story about her drug addiction and other sister and a young man without parents who lives with the family and is romancing the sister. Kevin Spacey is cast as Ryan Gosling's divorced father, a successful writer who hasn't seen his son since the boy was six years old. And there's one particular confrontation between the teacher and the father which is a high point of the film.

Mostly, this is an intentionally ambiguous story as each of the characters struggle with issues of morality. However, even though the acting was excellent, the characters never seemed real to me. There's lots of dialog and little action and nothing is ever really resolved. The conclusion is rather contrived by yet appropriate and, at the end, I was left with some open questions to think about.
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Format: DVD
I've read the reviews and there seems to be a lot of different views on this movie- it's understandable. Movies are in fact, an art form and not all art is meant for everyone. Not everyone can see the same thing or appreciate the same art; it's different for everyone, it's a different experience for everyone.

Some people can see American Beauty as a masterpiece of a film with subtle beauty while others can see it as garbage and totally unbrilliant. To each his/her own. Art is art, the experience is differnt for everyone.

With that said, my personal encounter with this film was totally amazing.

The main character Leland played by Ryan Gosling was brilliantly cast. His emotionless expressions and his total diconnection with the world and the reality around him is amazingly executed.

This movie works on many levels and mixes so many emotions. Amazon's review that the director offers "No easy answers" is totally accurate. There is no easy end to this film, it will leave you thinking and asking questions about the film and the people that surround you.

The reason I love these films so much is because I simple can't help but admire the thought and insight it takes to make them. To see past the barriers people put up, the fronts used to protect us from the truth of things, it makes you really wonder about the same ethics and mannerisms we use everyday.

It's a self-discovery type of thing too, where hopefully it can open your mind up to different aspects of things going on.

This story can't be really summed up here, it's an experience. The basics is he commits a murder, and the movie tries to explain why he did. But again, offers no answer to this question. It's something you come to on your own.
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