The United States of Leland is a very interesting film in many ways. First off it’s the only major feature that director Matthew Hoge has ever tackled. He must have some connections to get names like Kevin Spacey on as actor/producer, Don Cheadle and at the time an unknown Ryan Gosling. This is a pretty controversial film with the events being tackled: mental retardation, juvenile detainment, estrangement, etc.
The character Leland Fitzgerald is a real interesting one. Ryan Gosling plays his no remorse persona remarkably. I can see how Gosling was able to be so great in “Drive” now. His subtext is out of this world. His eyes say a whole different story that his mouth can’t. There are ideas and thoughts of what’s right and wrong in Leland’s head but he just can’t decipher their true meanings. This creates almost a simple view on life where everything is just black and white… it either is or it isn’t for Leland. It’s tragic to watch really.
Besides Gosling, Cheadle and Spacey are the only ones who really stood out to me. Cheadle has been great in everything I have seen him in. He plays a great strong leading man with conviction. Spacey was just as cynical as he could’ve been and I loved it. Michelle Williams was decent in her small tidbit, however. The acting apart from the aforementioned was kind of deplorable. Chris Klein never convinced me throughout that he even remotely tried. I cringed every time he was on screen. The writing was there for these characters, it was just a matter of how they executed it.
The ending I saw coming a mile away when certain events transpired. The wonderful monologue at the end made up for the predictability. Overall it’s worth a shot to check out.