Unlike other plot-less movies that try to create an entertaining drama out of a few one-dimensional characters and stale lines that are nowhere near either funny or profound, "Marvin's Room" has actual substance. Its enigmatic, twisting plot captivated me - and, despite its serious tone, this movie offers comic relief as well.
Diane Keaton portrays Bessie Wakefield, a frumpy forty-something year old who has spent her entire life caring for her elderly father and aunt. When she learns she has a deadly form of leukemia, she is forced to call her much younger sister, Leigh, whom she has not spoken to in years. Her only chance of survival is a bone marrow transplant from a blood relative, so Leigh reluctantly drives her two sons (her older boy, Hank, had to be released from a mental hospital to make the trip - nice plot twist) down to Florida to be tested. Bitter Hank (played by handsome Leonardo DiCaprio) refuses to be tested; Leigh and Bessie have a few problems with their relationship (no wonder, after all, they did have a good reason for not speaking to each other all those years...) and Aunt Ruth provides several good belly laughs.
Will Hank agree to be tested? Will anyone's blood be a close enough match for the transplant? If Bessie dies, will Leigh take over the care of her father and aunt? Expect a surprising ending!
My rating: 4 stars