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United States of Leland
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Movie Details

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Directed By
Matthew Ryan Hoge

Don Cheadle, Ryan Gosling, Chris Klein, Jena Malone, Lena Olin, Kevin Spacey, Michelle Williams

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United States of Leland (2004)
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Movie Review by Zara
March 6th, 2009

There are some people who talked about Ryan Gosling's great performance in LARS AND THE REAL GIRL and speculated if the character was meant to have Asperger's Autism and having dealt with it, I didn't think so. There wasn't the detached nature that comes with AA, just a man who had been withdrawn from the realities of the world that everyone else had to deal with.

In THE UNITED STATES OF LELAND, a very sadly overlooked movie, Gosling is 100% pulling off one of the best unspoken Asperger's performances I've seen thus far. Monotone in his speech patterns, matter-of-fact in his reactions to people's behaviours, not knowing what facial expressions or emotions he's supposed to show people in certain situations, all of it is classic, high-functioning Asperger's. And he's f*cking brilliant at doing it. I can't believe the movie is only 5 years old, as he looks like a baby faced teenager, the murderer of a retarded young boy who has no explanation for his crime other than he wondered what it would be like to do it. But for the most part, he's blocked it out.

The cast as a whole is phenomenal, scattered with great actors throughout (Kevin Spacey is such a great actor that even when he has a minor role, he does NOT ever dial in a performance, like most great actors do for the check in their careers). The story is a little erratic in its pacing, but overall, it poises some excellent questions about morality and who is allowed to deal the heavier hand when passing judgment. Do we do bad things because we're bad people or do we do bad things even though we're good people, just because we wanted to do something bad?

I highly recommend this for anyone who's a Gosling fan or doesn't understand the hype about why he's been proclaimed the next Sean Penn. The guy is outstanding and this is just another drop in his bucket to prove it.

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