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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whose rules?
I suppose it is inevitable that, to fit a novel into a two-hour period, much of the detail and even significant parts of the story line must be left out. That is certain the case with The Cider House Rules. John Irving's novel had much more character development, naturally (as a book can always reveal the interior lives of characters much more fully than can any...
Published on 27 Dec. 2005 by Kurt Messick

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A human drama set in 1940s New England
Dr Wilbur Larch (Michael Caine) is the resident doctor in an orphanage for unwanted children. One of the babies in his care he tries to have adopted but after a couple of failed attempts he names the boy Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire) and decides to keep him at the orphanage. The boy shows an interest in Larch's work and Larch uses him as his assistant when he grows up...
Published 22 months ago by Dr. H. A. Jones


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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whose rules?, 27 Dec. 2005
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
I suppose it is inevitable that, to fit a novel into a two-hour period, much of the detail and even significant parts of the story line must be left out. That is certain the case with The Cider House Rules. John Irving's novel had much more character development, naturally (as a book can always reveal the interior lives of characters much more fully than can any theatrical treatment), but I was a bit disappointed that significant plot developments (such as Homer's relationships away from St. Clouds) were left out. So, in this case, do read the book-you'll be glad you did.
That disclaimer having been made, I thought that the movie was very good. Michael Caine gave his usual wonderful performance, but I was never quite clear what accent he was trying to effect (being someone with a muddled accent myself, I am not really one to criticise on this point). The stories of the orphans of St. Clouds and the women who came for help in one way or another were very poignant. I was moved at the interplay between compassion and concern-the right to life/abortion debate (perhaps the central ideological pivot point in the novel and the movie) is presented in an interesting way, with just a small tendency to get preachy on one side or the other. To a large extent, this is never really resolved; while Homer in the end realises that in the adult world there are rarely black-and-white issues, but rather shades of gray, one does not know in the movie if he is really persuaded to his mentor's view.
The Cider House Rules (referring firstly to the notice tacked to the wall of one of the lodgings) serves as a metaphor for the entire film. Who made these rules? What do they really mean? What purpose do they serve? Can't we make our own rules? I found this metaphor personally meaningful, for, as a theology student, these are questions I ask and am asked on a routine basis. What authority do rules written by others have on me? on society?
This story is also one of vocation, of finding one's life's calling, a pursuit near to my heart as I prepare to enter the ministry. I find that my resistance to being pigeon-holed is similar to Homer's. He resisted the automatic assumption that he was a doctor, only to find in the course of his life that he was in fact called to be a doctor. Often when one tries to run away from a vocation, one runs into its arms in any case.
The different family situations (Rose and her father, the flyer and his, the orphanage) shows that family and community exist on many different levels. The interactions and easy acceptance of these situations is perhaps a bit of a stretch, but the interplay shows that the traditional nuclear family was more of an ideal than a realisation.
I loved the scenery, and the cinematography was very well done, but I have a slight irritation at the depiction of New England as being covered in fall-coloured foliage all year round. New Hampshire is one of my favourite holiday spots, and many is the time that I've been there that, lovely as it is, there was not a red-coloured or gold-coloured tree to be seen.
This story essentially is one about love for the unloved, the overall love for humanity, of one making one's way in a confusing world, and trying to protect the vulnerable while allowing them freedom to grow, and an infusing of a sense of worth in those whom the world would otherwise consider worthless, as exemplified in the good doctor's nightly bidding: `Good night, you princes of Maine, you kings of New England.'
P.S. Watch for John Irving's cameo in the movie, too.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It could bring tears to a glass eye!, 12 April 2002
By A Customer
I didn't know what to expect when I went to see this film at the cinema. I'd never heard of Cider House Rules or even John Irving but this film is brilliant. The performances are also great. Tobey Maguire is perfect as the 'deep' Homer Wells and Michael Caine really does deserve is Best supporting actor award for Dr Larch. His last scene could have brought tears to a glass eye. This movie has a unique quality to it which teaches morals and how to live your life at the same time as being a very enjoyable story with top class characters and a brilliant score. Buy it now!!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cider House Rules, 22 Nov. 2005
By 
Rich Milligan (Thatcham, Berkshire) - See all my reviews
“Cider House Rules” is a moving and atmospheric film which takes two extremely contentious subject matters, abortion and incest, and weaves a touching storyline about them.
St Cloud’s is a remote orphanage set in rural Maine. Dr Wilbur Larch (Michael Caine) runs the orphanage on a shoestring budget with only two matronly nurses to help him. He names one orphaned child Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire) and after a couple of failed adoption attempts it looks like Homer will be adopted by the orphanage itself and Dr Larch sets about training Homer to take over his duties. Although having undergone no medical training at all Homer proves himself to be just as capable physician as Dr Larch, although on the question of abortion the two men greatly differ.
One day a young couple arrive at the orphanage, he’s a USAF Pilot and she’s “in the club”, for Homer on the other hand this spells an escape out of the home. The pilot, Wally Worthington’s parents own a large apple plantation and on the drive away from the orphanage he offers Homer a job as a picker.
Homer is delivered to the plantation where he is given a bunk in the barn alongside the other pickers, a nomadic group of immigrants who travel up and down the east coast picking the various fruits of the seasons. The leader of this motley crew is Mr Rose, a welcoming but also dangerous looking man who is accompanied by his daughter, the enigmatically named Rose Rose. With Wally sent away to fly the “Burma Run” his girlfriend Candy Kendall (Charlize Theron) starts spending more and more time with Homer and a lovely gentle love story between the two of them starts to develop.
In many ways for all the social and moral dilemmas that the “Cider House Rules” throws up, it doesn’t actually answer any of them or even attempt to answer them. In the case of abortion it shows the opposing views of Homer and Dr Larch but in the case of incest it presents a rather confusing picture. The film works best in its sentimental and romantic views on life. The developing love story between Homer and Candy is gently sweet and classically romantic and excellently presented.
The performances are fantastic, Tobey Maguire shows a competence and skill beyond his years and Charlize Theron is delightful. Delroy Lindo deserves special mention for his portrayal of Mr Rose, who is both monster and nice guy all in one. The children of the orphanage also put in performances of great skill, especially Kieran Culkin. Michael Caine won a best supporting actor Oscar for this performance, which I would maybe argue is not his best ever, but is a fine turn without any doubt.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Adaptation of Book to Film, 12 Sept. 2007
John Irving published his novel The Cider House Rules in 1985 to great critical and commercial acclaim. Centred on a Maine orphanage, its central topic of abortion perhaps is the most obvious allusion to the influence of Charles Dickens on Irving's work. The World According to Garp and The Hotel New Hampshire had already been filmed (Garp by the director George Roy Hill in 1982, and Hampshire by Tony Richardson in 1984), both to moderate success, but it wasn't until 1999 that Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom turned Rules into perhaps one of the best screen adaptations of a novel for some years.

The two main characters in "Rules" are Homer Wells, an orphan, and Dr Wilbur Larch, who's in charge of the orphanage where Homer grows up and has become a surrogate father to him. When Homer decides to leave the orphanage to experience the world, the film charts his progress from young boy to man amongst a diverse and fascinating series of encounters and characters. Memorable amongst these characters are Rose Rose, the daughter of a migrant worker at an apple orchard where Homer finds temporary employment; this story arc is the most gripping and to say any more would spoil it entirely! Other characters include Candy Kendall and her boyfriend Wally, who also work at the apple orchard; when Wally leaves to fight in World War 2, Homer and Candy embark on an affair that leads to an unexpected denouement.

The entire cast is exceptional and turn in some of the best work of their careers. Tobey Maguire is excellent as Homer, with a sense of innocence at first, and then gradually become worldly-wise as his life grows. As Dr Larch, Michael Caine won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, (thoroughly deserved) sporting a terrific New England accent, and his scenes with the orphans are some of the most moving I've ever seen. Mention should also be made of the supporting cast, especially Delroy Lindo as Rose Rose's father, and Charlize Theron as Candy. Lindo gives his part plenty of angst and unexpected poignancy at one stage, and Theron simply shines on screen.

On DVD, technically "Rules" cannot be faulted. Oliver Stapleton's lush cinematography bathes almost every scene in rich autumnal glows, seen to terrific effect in a near-flawless 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer, and Rachel Portman contributes a wonderful score (often re-used for trailers) that sounds superb on the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, although the surrounds aren't used a lot except for the aforementioned music. Extras-wise, we get an audio commentary by Hallstrom, Irving, and producer Richard Gladstein, a 20-minute making-of featurette, 5 deleted scenes, the theatrical trailer and 15 (!) TV spots.

If I had to pick one film to take on to a desert island, at this point in time "Rules" would be it. I can't think of a better film I've ever seen, and that, as people who know me would testify, is certainly saying something! As a final note, John Irving won an Oscar for his script, and has a cameo role as the stationmaster in the film.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A film about life, 3 Feb. 2007
Few films can be so unassuming but say so much. If you are an orphan, then you know what this film is talking about. If you are a field worker from a ethnic minority, you know what it's talking about. If you are a father who worries about his son and does not want to let him venture into the real world, if you are a woman who has had an abortion, if you are in love with someone you shouldn't be in love with, if you live by someone else's rules, if you are torn between places and people, if you need to fly far away and go against everything you have been taught and everyone you love so that you can grow up before you decide what place to call home... then you know what The Cider House Rules are all about. Sit back and enjoy an inspiring and daring look into a boy's daring choice to challenge everything he knows in order to grow up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A human drama set in 1940s New England, 20 Jun. 2013
By 
Dr. H. A. Jones "Howard Jones" (Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Cider House Rules [DVD] (DVD)
Dr Wilbur Larch (Michael Caine) is the resident doctor in an orphanage for unwanted children. One of the babies in his care he tries to have adopted but after a couple of failed attempts he names the boy Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire) and decides to keep him at the orphanage. The boy shows an interest in Larch's work and Larch uses him as his assistant when he grows up. Larch is primarily an obstetrician, but is also willing to perform abortions of unwanted babies. Homer assists Larch in this for several years but does not approve, so he leaves and joins a group of black migrant workers working in a cider factory. When he arrives, Wells takes it upon himself to establish a set of rules of conduct for the community. One of the women on whom Dr Larch performs an abortion is the lovely Candy Kendall (Charlize Theron), who has become pregnant by Lt. Wally Worthington (Paul Rudd). When Homer meets Candy again with Worthington overseas, the two develop a relationship, but when Worthington sustains a crippling injury, Candy feels she must stay with him on his return home. The black community resent having rules imposed on them by Wells, but when one of the workers, Arthur Rose (Delroy Lindo), impregnates his own daughter who dies from complications of having an abortion, Rose realises the wisdom of imposing some rules for the community to live by. The acting was very good in this drama about conscience and relationships, but I didn't find it an engrossing film.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I don't often think 5 stars, 8 April 2014
Can't be bothered to say much other than I don't often think of anything as 5 stars. This certainly was.

I did read the 1 star review from Mr. "I'm very boring and attempt to be very verbose, albeit badly...." and wondered if he was watching the same film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Bit Heavy on the Syrup, 25 Feb. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I suspect the David Copperfield (significantly a bed time read in the orphanage) 'growth of a soul' of the novel will convince in a better way and you can't get away from the intention to tug heartstrings in a Dickensian fashion with various scenes of people slipping away and children all pretty undamaged despite their emotional traumas. Toby MacGuire is well-cast as...er...Toby MacGuire and Caine is good as are the supports. The music gives the intention away, I think with its insistent 'this is a sentimental moment' artiness. It's a weepie really and well-done of its type but are the Cider House Rules really 'what it's about'?
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good adaption of a great book, 5 Feb. 2001
By A Customer
Irving's novel has been well adapted in this excellent Michael Caine film. Tobey Maguire is superb as the orphan Homer adopting his emotionless persona perfectly. If like me you read the book after, hopefully you won't be disappointed by the bits they left out, I know I wasn't.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece of the Modern Age, 16 Aug. 2009
The Cider House Rules is a classic of modern cinema, in many years of watching movies only this and a handful of other titles capture the romanace and drama of a story so well as this, it is a perfect film.

It is set two main backdrops, both are vastly contrasting, but contrast is obvious in some form for much of the story as we are constantly engaged into making moral judgements of characters, settings and situations.

We begin in an Orphanage in Maine with our lead Homer (Tobey Maguire), a young man bought up in the Orphanage, he has grown to be a decent and well educated man and he is now aiding Dr. Wilbur Larch (Michael Caine)in a loving and caring environment for all the young children who live there. We see in early scenes two differing sides to the Orphanage as we are introduced to the illegal practice Dr. Larch offers to carry out abortions, helped by Homer despite his clear views against it. The first of our moral questions is raised again and again. It remaining unanswered is unusual as the story appears to carry a upstanding moral and sense of justice in the conclusion of the many layers of narrative.

We have already been introduced to the horrors of the operating theatre, and then a young couple arrive in a fancy car. The young couple we are intruduced to are Wally, a young army officer (Paul Rudd) and his girlfriend Candy (Charlize Theron) who are there for the service. After the operation they offer a way out into the greater world for Homer as he decides to leave with them. A caring but restrictive setting is exchanged for the enormous outside world, and we see the wonder and share how Homer feels on seeing the sea for the first time as he journeys with them, he is carefree and excepts a job at an orchard picking apples owned by Wally's family.

When Wally returns to the war effort Homer stays in the Cider House with a group of migrant workers. Homer's nature is so caring that he fits well into this abrasive setting and soon this collective feels close to the warmth of the Orphanage. He works with Candy and their relationship grows closer until we are flung into a love story that is mixed with passion, secrecy and guilt.

The Cider House on the orchard is managed by the wise Mr. Rose who we begin to see as the second fatherly influence on Homer, a proud and decent man who leads this group of a handful of men and his daughter - Rose. The comfortable viewing we have enjoyed for nearly a hour has now set every characters story in motion, and a rollercoaster of emotion begins as these tales reach a conclusion.

First is the revelation Rose is pregnant, by her father Mr. Rose. It is then Homer who struggles with conscience knowing he has the skills to perform an abortion in these dire circumstances. The operation is a success but on Mr. Rose's next advance on his daughter, he is stabbed by the fleeing Rose and dies in the Cider House. The life and death is introduced in another form, and of all through the film the viewer is offered the chance to make a moral decision but it is the narrative we see bringing the world back to balance, enforcing its justice on the characters within it.

The slow and textured piece has now gathered pace as suddenly Homer's affair is threatened when Wally returns from the War paralysed. Candy feels plagued by moral obligation to care for her beau in his condition and heartbreak is felt by all. Finally it is time for Homer and Dr. Larch's story to be concluded and they are also bought to justice in a sense for their actions through the piece.

Without wishing to spoil the film's climax the scene showing Homer's return is the most powerful of the piece, despite all the horrors the film displays.

Within minutes the credits roll, if you see them through the tears and you imagine the futures they will all lead from the end. You leave a world that has challenged you so much you feel you have almost lived in it. All the oscars in the world could not sum up how much of a triumph the film is.
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