Projections - Movie Reviews

The Cider House Rules

In 1943 I experienced ether for the first time, I can still smell it.  Homer Wills (Tobey Maguire) an orphan at St. Cloud's orphanage learns the value and danger of ether at an early age.

With some changes from the book which condense the story, making it more effective as a film, The Cider House Rules is based on John Irving's acclaimed novel.  We watch Homer Wills come of age, leave the orphanage where he spends his childhood and live in a nearby cider house  where he picks apples with a group of black migrant workers and falls in love with Candy Kendall (Charlize Theron).

John Irving's screen play is brilliant and mesmerizing.  His Dr. Wilbur Larch (Michael Caine) is a dedicated physician who doesn't follow the rules.  He helps women give birth, he also performs illegal abortions for desperate women.  Homer finds abortion repulsive and does not assist with the procedure.  Dr. Larch has trained his young protégé to be a gynecological physician without the experience of medical school or even high school.  The dilemma of abortion confronts Homer a number of times while he is a young man.  His rule against participating in the procedure is bent early on when a young woman who attempted to end her pregnancy arrives at the orphanage with a pierced peritoneum and a life threatening infection.

As the cider house rules are broken by the migrant workers, all the rules these rich interesting characters live by are bent by the forces in their lives.  Dr. Larch designs and makes up Homer's education history which allows his young follower to claim to be a doctor.  Larch also illegally performs abortions, toys with his advisory board, loves his head nurse Angela (Kathy Baker), promotes adoptions, rips kids from abusive parents and misuses ether.  Candy Kendall needs to be loved and she has an affair with Homer while her fiancé is fighting in World War II.  Rose Rose (Erykah Badu) one of the cider house residents becomes pregnant and her father (Delroy Lindo) is forced to face a dark secret.

The kids in the orphanage break few rules: they laugh, listen, watch King Kong, prim for potential parents and sadly unpack when not selected.

With all their failings the characters remain endearing throughout the story; their journey clings to us, it demands judgment and understanding.  Above all, their success is joyful and their pain is contagious.

When the award season begins The Cider House Rules will play a prominent role.

The Cider House Rules
A Top Ten pick for 1999

Home | Search | Reviewer Bios | Links | Mail Us
Copyright © 2005 Projections